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Frugal Tip: Saving Money on Electricity using Time Metered Service

Here in our home, we have “Residential Time Metered” electric service. Rather than paying the same rate regardless of the hour of the day, we pay less during “off-peak” and “intermediate-peak” hours than we do “peak” hours. If you’re not sure whether you pay metered or flat rate service, check your bill or call your electric company to find out.

Generally, peak hours are from 8am-9pm, intermediate hours are Saturdays (8am-9pm) and off-peak hours are all other hours, but your power company rules may vary.

Is Time Metered Electricity for You?

You would think that the opportunity to pay less for power on weekends, nights or early mornings is great, but consider this: peak hours cost more on time metered plans than on flat rate plans. It’s just that the other two levels cost less than flat rate plans, and that’s where the savings are.

So, if you tend to use most of your electricity during the normal working day, and are unable to move your activities (such as washing clothes, running the dishwasher, etc.) to off-peak times or weekends, then perhaps you should consider sticking with a flat rate plan. Otherwise, ask your power company about time metered service

A Warning about Changing Your Rate Service

Again, your provider’s rules may differ, but with Pepco, I found out that once you choose time metered service, if you go back to flat rate, you can never switch back to time metered again. It’s a ridiculous rule, but I assume they don’t want people flipping and making Pepco have to work more. Eh, crappy reasoning and a bad rule if you’re the consumer, but they make the rules.

Getting the Most Out of Time Metered Rates

So you have time metered rates. What do you do to get the most benefit out of them?

Try to switch the following activities to off-peak or intermediate-peak times:

  • Washing clothes
  • Drying clothes
  • Using the dishwasher
  • Running the pool pump (we have a pool and know from experience)
  • Taking a bath (if you have an electric water heater) versus a shower
  • Watching TV, including movies

Also, consider turning off/unplugging your entertainment and internet appliances (router, modem, TV, VCR, etc.) when you’re not at home, at least during peak times. For us, since we work during most of the peak hours each day, we can easily just flip the power strip switch on our entertainment system and office equipment, and turn it back on when we get home. Granted, we lose our channel and time settings on the TV and VCR, but it’s a small loss for a big gain.

Chat back in the comments below if you have experience with time-metered electrical service!

About the author

Clever Dude

6 Comments

  • I used to have this in my old flat which had electric heating – it had storage heaters (they have bricks in) to take advantage of the cheaper nighttime electricity. I also had a washing machine with a delay start so I could set it to run with the cycle finishing at getting up time.

    Definitely switch off appliances with inverters at the plug – there’s no point in consuming electricity that you’re not using for anything.

  • I’ve actually never heard of Time Metered service before. It’s definitely not for me because I’m at home with kids. However, this definitely would have been good to know when I was working full time with the heat turned down and the power strips off at home! Thanks for shedding some insight.

  • This is a great idea for some but unfortunatly not for me since I work from home. Since I am here all the time I do little chores when I can such as laundry. I think it’s an option that people don’t know of though so thanks for putting this out there! It’s great for full time workers!

  • This is available in the Chicago area, but it is not based on time – the cost of electricity fluctuates based on demand. So, rates are higher all summer (but lower at night when less AC used) and generally lower all winter. So far we’ve been on the program almost a year and saved less than $20 total. Not sure if its worth the hassle, as its pretty stressful to log on and see that electricity is expensive when you really need to do laundry, etc.

  • We have this but I’m hesitant to switch. I’m home all day and not sure we will really save money. But my friend is a stay at home mom and she swears by it. You have to be vigilant about when you use electricity… and I’m not sure I want that kind of pressure. lol.

  • Sounds like a lot of effort to try to save if you switch to time meters. You be monitoring everything more closely and are the savings really worth it? May just add much more stress for low benefits

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