Even with work days no longer confined to Monday through Friday and hours are often outside of 8am to 5pm, most people heat and cool their homes, wash dishes, take showers or do laundry at about the same time during the day. This heavy use of energy causes a peak demand for electricity.Utility companies often charge more during these peak times.
Here in Tucson there is a program so that Tucson Electric (TEP) users receive a reduced electric rate for shifting energy use from peak periods of the day to off-peak times. The electric company benefits because there is a more balanced and efficient use of our generating resources. Check with your utility company to see if there is a Time of Use (TOU) program in your area.
How it works with TEP:
TEP replaces your conventional meter, free of charge, with a meter that tracks the times of day you use electricity, then calculates the kilowatt-hour rates for those periods.
One of the requirements with the TOU program is that TEP must have access to the meter at all times. (This is going to keep me from participating because I have a large dog that may be in my yard.) The meter readers must be able to stand directly in front of the meter to read it without interference from locked gates, foliage or other impediments.
You must also stay enrolled in the program for one year. After a year, if you find that the program is not suitable for your work schedule and lifestyle, you can switch back to standard residential service.
Peak and shoulder periods only occur during certain hours, Monday through Friday, excluding selected holidays.
The definition of peak, shoulder and off-peak varies by season. Under TOU Price Schedule No. 70, the summer hours apply to electricity usage from May through October, and winter hours apply from November through April.
During summer weekdays, the peak period is from 1 to 6 p.m. and the shoulder period is from 6 to 8 p.m.
During winter weekdays, there are two peak periods: a morning peak period from 7 to 11 a.m., and an evening peak period from 6 to 9 p.m. There is not a winter shoulder period.
While the service charge is more for the Time-of-use program, the difference may be recovered by using electricity during off-peak hours. The table below compares prices based on schedules set in March of 1996.
How do to shift usage to off-peak:
Shifting usage is simple: Do tasks that consume electricity during off-peak periods rather than during peak or shoulder periods. For instance:
- Set timers on pools or spa filters to run during off-peak hours.
- Operate washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and non-essential appliances during off-peak hours.
- Adjust your air conditioning thermostat to a higher setting and heater to a lower setting during peak and shoulder hours or when you are not at home.
- Install a timer on water heaters so that they operate mainly during off-peak hours.
- Turn off lights during peak and shoulder hours.
- Enjoy recreational backing and electricity-consuming hobbies during weekends and holidays, which are off-peak hours.
It may take a little planning, but for many utility users, the TOU program helps reduce utility bills.