‘Time of use’ tar­iffs can be great for night owls but if your house­hold en­ergy con­sump­tion is more typ­i­cal it could end up cost­ing you more than it needs to

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - HOME ADVICE -

Mil­lions of homes have two elec­tric­ity me­ters – or one with two sets of num­bers. They’re elec­tric­ity cus­tomers on “Econ­omy Seven” or other off-peak “time of use” power.

But un­less they have night stor­age heaters or a noc­tur­nal life style, they could be los­ing big time.

The night rate is usu­ally around half stan­dard elec­tric­ity, be­cause de­mand falls once most peo­ple are in bed. But the day rate for these con­sumers is much higher.

Although elec­tric­ity sup­pli­ers all dif­fer, the peak cost (paid for most of the day) is around a fifth more ex­pen­sive than a stan­dard 24-hour rate.

You could also pay higher stand­ing charges.

If you use loads of elec­tric­ity be­tween 11pm and 6am – sup­pli­ers can vary these hours a lit­tle – be­cause you have stor­age heaters, use high- power ap­pli­ances such as wash­ing ma­chines in the mid­dle of night (per­haps with a time switch), or charge elec­tric cars, then you win.

House­holds with more typ­i­cal us­age, how­ever, make a loss.

Only one in five off-peak power users still has stor­age heaters.

Now Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice, in its role as of­fi­cial con­sumer body for en­ergy, is call­ing on reg­u­la­tors and sup­pli­ers to en­sure con­sumers do not lose out due to “time of use” tar­iffs.

Even cus­tomers who switch may be stuck on these costly deals.

Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice be­lieves those on “time of use” schemes con­tinue to re­ceive poor in­for­ma­tion from sup­pli­ers and many peo­ple do not save money by us­ing off-peak elec­tric­ity tar­iffs.

Its new re­search states that only half of the 3.5mil­lion house­holds with off- peak me­ter­ing make any ef­fort at us­ing the night-time fa­cil­ity and many of those who try to use it still man­age to lose.

Only four out of 10 house­holds were con­fi­dent they knew the off-peak times.

It’s rare to find elec­tric­ity com­pa­nies that push Econ­omy Seven or sim­i­lar schemes to new cus­tomers un­less they de­mand it.

But many still have it – or have ac­quired prop­er­ties with it – and even if they re­alise it’s cost­ing them ev­ery month, it can be un­clear how to get rid of the un­wanted sec­ond me­ter.

Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice says reg­u­la­tor Ofgem should “con­sider the needs of legacy time of use cus­tomers within any fu­ture re­form of its in­formed choices pro­gramme”.

Charg­ing an elec­tric car (left), or us­ing a wash­ing ma­chine overnight could mean you make the most of an off-peak rate for your en­ergy If you use a lot of elec­tric­ity be­tween the hours of 11pm and 6am you could be onto a win­ner with an off-peak tar­iff


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