The time of day you use energy can impact electricity rates. Think of times of high energy demand like rush hour traffic. There are times when a lot of people in a community are using electricity—whether getting ready for work, which involves showering and making breakfast, or coming home in the evening to cook dinner, wash clothes, bathe the kids or wash dishes.
During times of high energy use, your electric cooperative strives to ensure there is enough electricity to meet the needs of all consumer-members. This often results in buying energy at higher costs (because of higher overall demand) as well as ensuring that grid infrastructure can deliver enough electricity when use is highest. This is especially true when extreme winter or summer weather pushes energy use even higher.
Beat the peak
There are ways you can avoid the energy rush hour by thoughtfully timing energy-intensive activities at home. For appliance use, move laundry loads to later in the evening or weekends. Delay running the dishwasher until well after dinner or use the delay cycle function if your dishwasher has one.
Reduce your water heater’s energy burden by showering and bathing during an off-peak time or lowering the temperature on the tank. Some models include timer capabilities.
During summer, consider grilling outdoors to keep the oven off during peak heat days.
You also can unplug charging cables and small appliances when they’re not in use. For bigger items like TVs, try plugging them into a power strip that can be flipped on and off.
Finally, if you have an electric vehicle, charge it at night when electricity rates are typically lowest.
Set your programmable thermostat to move the temperature up to 78 degrees in summer and down to 68 degrees in winter. Bump it further up or down during peak hours or when you’re away from home for extended periods of time. (Note: Not all programmable thermostats work well with heat pumps. Choose a programmable thermostat that has adaptive recovery technology for less energy use.)
KATHERINE LOVING writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.