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6 Tips to Lower Your Time-of-Use Electricity Bill

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The words, "Tips To Save With Time-of-Use" in green over top of a white clock, signifying the different electricity rates used with a TOU plan, and how to save money by optimizing your energy usage.
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If you choose to use an electricity plan for your home with Time-of-Use (TOU) rates, you can usually save money by aligning your energy consumption with the peak and off-peak hours. You don’t have to use less energy, you just need to shift when that energy use occurs. (Although using less energy will also help increase your savings!)

With these six helpful tips on how to reduce your energy consumption and lower your electricity bill if you have a Time-of-Use rate plan, you can make effective adjustments that will help you take advantage of the reduced rates during off-peak hours, and limit usage during peak hours.

1. Invest In a Smart Thermostat

The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one of the largest uses of electricity in the average home. By installing a smart thermostat to control your HVAC system, you can help reduce your energy consumption by shifting your HVAC usage to off-peak hours, resulting in more affordable heating bills and cooling bills.

To maximize your savings with heating and cooling, we recommend using specific temperature settings for your programmable thermostat according to peak, mid-peak, and off-peak periods. For instance:

  • During the summer, you can program your thermostat to automatically adjust the air conditioner to 78 degrees when everyone leaves the home.
  • In the evening, the sun will be lower, so the thermostat can drop to 75 degrees, making your home more comfortable when you return.
  • You can program the thermostat to drop a few more degrees during off-peak hours since you'll pay a lower rate during those times.

Installing ceiling fans is another great way to help circulate that treated air, so your HVAC system doesn’t have to run for long periods of time. Just make sure your windows and doors are closed so you’re not wasting the energy that’s being consumed. For more temperature tips, check out our Recommended Thermostat Settings For Each Season.

2. Shift Your Heavy Appliance Usage to Off-peak Hours

Appliances like washing machines, clothes dryers, and dishwashers are all heavy energy consumers. If they’re older models, it might be time to consider upgrading to energy-efficient models. Regardless of how new your appliances are though, you can still save money by adjusting when you use them.

To lower your electricity bill by using the cheaper off-peak rates, you can run the dishwasher right before you go to bed, instead of right after a meal. Your laundry and drying can also wait until the evening time to help you maximize your savings. Both of these adjustments also have the added benefit of shifting when your water heater needs to replenish your store of heated water, helping to reduce your overall heating costs.

3. Turn Off The Power When You're Away

Remember to switch the power off when no one is home, especially during peak times with high demand. By creating the habit of unplugging electronics and switching off lights before leaving for the day's activities, you can lower your TOU electricity bill and maximize your savings when energy is the most expensive.

Ever heard of vampire energy? It's the energy some electronics use when plugged into a power source, even when they appear to be “off”. To keep the vampires at bay, unplug electronics such as video game consoles, televisions, and printers when not in use. You can also use a power strip to easily disconnect devices without unplugging them, for enhanced convenience.

4. Charge Your Electric Vehicle (EV) When Rates Are Low

Just like heavy appliances, the same advice applies to electric vehicles: Wait for the electric rates to drop before charging your EV. With their massive battery packs, electric and hybrid vehicles can use significant amounts of electricity to fully charge, so adjusting the time when that charging happens can result in significant savings.

Thankfully, you don't have to flip the switch at just the right moment to take advantage of off-peak rates and lower your time-of-use electricity bill. Some EVs feature "intelligent charging" that you can program to begin charging your battery when you want. Simply set the system for whenever your off-peak electricity hours start, and the vehicle will do the rest.

While some electric vehicles don't employ an intelligent charging feature, you can still install a smart charger to make the most of off-peak rates and achieve the same results. EV smart chargers are designed to automatically switch off when the peak hours kick in, so you can charge for less.

5. Invest In Solar Power and Battery Storage

Peak demand and increased electricity prices typically occur during the day when the sun is high in the sky, and more people are using air conditioning, or in the morning when people run their heating system. As a result, solar energy has impacted peak and off-peak hours to some degree.

Solar power subverts the traditional model of peak electricity hours during the daytime. A home with solar panels wants the energy from the sun because it helps the solar power system maximize its energy generation. Thus, TOU plans for solar panel owners often start at 5 p.m. when the sun starts going down, which means they’re facing higher electricity prices right when their solar panels stop creating electricity.

In these situations, it can be helpful to install solar battery storage. That way, you can charge your solar batteries during the day using excess solar energy, and the stored electricity will be available to power your home during the peak hours after sunset.

6. Enroll In Net Metering

Some electric utility companies have net metering programs that allow you to channel excess electricity generated by your solar panels back into the grid. In return, you get a "credit" on your utility bill that you can apply to any energy that you draw from the electricity grid in the future, which can help lower your time-of-use electricity bill.

Because the amount of net metering credit that you receive is often related to the price of electricity, you can get more credit if you’re able to feed energy back into the grid during peak hours. With a solar battery, you can store up energy during off-peak hours, and then release it into the grid during peak hours, helping to maximize your savings for when you do need to pull energy back from the grid during off-peak hours.

How To Save With TOU, Solar, and Lower Energy Consumption

Some electricity plans with TOU rates can have you paying peak demand pricing at times when your solar power system isn’t creating electricity. As a result, it’s important to implement new practices and learn new habits that can help you avoid high energy prices, and maximize the electricity your solar panels are creating from sunlight.

With a few simple behavior changes such as using a smart thermostat, killing vampire energy, and adjusting when you use large appliances, you can lower your time-of-use electricity bill and save even more money every month.

If you want to install solar panels on your home that could help lower your energy bills and protect the environment, talk to Palmetto today. With our Free Solar Design, you can see how that solar power system would look on your roof, and receive an instant savings estimate.

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