LOSING OUT WITH YOUR OFF-PEAK ENERGY RATE?
‘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
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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