Just as you can get cheaper airfare by catching a red-eye flight, using energy when fewer people are pulling electricity out of the grid generally costs your co-op, and ultimately you, much less.
We all use a certain amount of energy. Refrigerators, air-conditioning and heating systems, and other steady appliances create base-load requirements—the minimum amount of power your co-op needs to reliably supply its members.
Consumers tend to use electricity during the same “peak” periods—in the morning to get kids ready for school, and in the evening when a home lights up with power-draining activities.
Why does your electric co-op carefully monitor energy use or “load” patterns? Its price for wholesale power rises and falls depending on the type of fuel (coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, etc.) generating the electricity, which largely depends on the time of day power is used.
For example, generating base-load power with coal costs far less than starting up a natural-gas peaking plant to meet peak consumption on summer afternoons or winter mornings. You can help hold down costs by keeping an eye on the clock when you use power.
—NRECA COOPERATIVE RESEARCH NETWORK