Justine Quealy
Justine Quealy
Climate Planning Technician

Just What are Time of Use Rates and How Can They Save you Money?

Have you heard of Time of Use rates before? Did you know you could be saving money on your energy bill just by utilizing them? Let’s back up. The state of California has set the goal of 100 percent use of zero-carbon electricity by 2045, which builds on the previous work the state has done to become more energy efficient and manage energy use. California residents have a key part in helping the state achieve this goal, and one way is to shift practices and behaviors to better manage not only the amount of electricity that is used, but also when electricity is used. By using energy at certain times of the day, Californians can ensure they are using clean energy through the Time-of-Use (TOU) rate plans.

EUC EnviroFair2019Why does time matter? Clean energy is mostly produced from the sun and wind, and this cleaner energy is usually available when the sun is out or when the wind is blowing. Often in California, the sun is out when we’re away from the house and the wind blows when we’re asleep. The timing of energy use can be aligned with the availability of this clean energy by following a TOU plan.

People tend to use energy at similar times, typically in the evening when most people are home from work and school, and settling into their evening activities which can include cooking, cleaning, and enjoying some leisure time - all of which require energy. This period of time is called the peak demand period, and falls between the hours of 4pm-9pm. Unfortunately, this timing of our energy use does not align with the availability of energy from renewable resources, and electricity is more likely to be produced by traditional carbon-intensive energy sources emitting greenhouse gases.

TOU rate plans can help people manage energy during these peak demand hours by encouraging people to shift energy consuming activities to off-peak hours when clean energy is available. Under the TOU plans, energy prices will be lower during off-peak hours, and higher during the peak demand period. There are a variety of tips to follow and changes you could make in your home to adjust when you’re using energy:

  • Turn off non-essential lighting and electronic devices between 4pm-9pm to ensure you’re using as much clean energy as possible.

  • Use timers to run appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, and electric water heaters during off-peak hours. Install timers on indoor and outdoor lighting, water recirculation pumps, and pool and spa pumps.

  • Adjust your thermostat to not only save energy, but also to pre-cool or pre-heat your home outside of peak demand hours.

  • Take advantage of daylight and do any household chores and activities that you can during the day before 4 p.m. when energy is cleaner and less expensive.

  • Charge your battery-powered devices over night after the peak demand period ends at 9pm.

Sierra Business Council’s Climate Planning team is working with Energy Upgrade California to share energy-saving solutions and information about TOU rate plans. We look forward to providing more information about this rate plan and providing energy management and conservation practices with residents up and down the Sierra in the coming months. If you would like to learn more about the TOU rate plans along with other ways to save and manage energy, just give us a call, our team would love to talk with you!