Off peak electricity times: How can they save you money?

Daughter helping mother arranging crockery in dishwasher
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the current climate, finding savings through off-peak electricity times is not only very tempting, but it could yet become a valuable option for households this winter.

National Grid warned earlier this month that planned blackouts, albeit "unlikely", could be introduced this winter due to the pressure facing the electricity grid, and the UK's electricity system operator is encouraging households to avoid charging appliances during peak hours. 

An off-peak rebate scheme will begin in November, but you may already be able to benefit from off-peak electricity times depending on which energy tariff you are signed up to. 

Certain tariffs can be beneficial if you're looking for off-peak energy-saving tips, and mean you'll spend less on running a load of washing or setting the dishwasher when you do it before you go to bed.

Take a look below as we answer all of your frequently asked questions on off-peak electricity times. 

When are off-peak electricity times? 

Off-peak electricity times refer to tariffs that charge less for energy used at certain times of the day. The timings tend to be at night, roughly between 10pm and 8am, but they differ between suppliers and tariffs. 

On the other hand, peak electricity times are when power demand is at its highest and, therefore, the charges increase. When on an off peak energy tariff, it serves households well to know the times of both peak and off peak so they can schedule dishwashers and other large appliances to begin their cycle at the most affordable times. 

The idea of off-peak energy savings is increasingly enticing given the cost of living crisis and for households for whom the £400 energy grant will not make up the difference. 

However, peak energy times will cost more on these tariffs, compared to standard tariffs, which means unless you use a considerable proportion of your electricity at night, it could end up costing you more.

stacked washing machine and tumble dryer in laundry utility room

By opting for an off peak energy tariff and using your appliances at night, you could save money on your energy bills (Image credit: Mark Ashbee)

What is the off-peak rebate scheme?

The National Grid off-peak energy rebate scheme will begin on 1 November and provide households with a refund on their energy bill for avoiding using electricity during peak usage times.

The full details of the scheme have not yet been published but the scheme, officially called the Demand Flexibility Service, is designed to help homeowners navigate the energy crisis and save money.

Homeowners who avoid using appliances that consume a lot of electricity, such as dishwashers (which use around 2kWh per load) and tumble dryers (around 4kWh), during peak periods will be offered rebates either through credit on an energy account, or having the money directly transferred to a bank account. 

It is believed that only households with smart meters installed will be able to benefit. 

The scheme is designed to stave off the risk of blackout warnings this winter, and National Grid hopes it will lead to around two gigawatts of reduced demand.

Can you get cheaper electricity at night? 

While some tariffs offer cheaper electricity at night, for the majority of households it is not cheaper to use electricity at night.

You will need to be sure your household is attached to the right tariff to capitalise on cheaper off peak electricity times, such as the traditional Economy 7, SSE's Off-peak E and Green Energy UK's Tide Tariff. 

If you are on one of these, or a similar tariff, in theory households should be able to save money by running a laundry load at night, for instance, as power is less in demand. 

What are the Economy 7 times?

"The cheaper Economy 7 time period usually runs either 11.00pm to 6.00am, 12.00am to 7.00am or 1.00am to 8.00am. However this can vary according to where you live and your energy supplier," say the experts at U switch

However, not only do you have to have a specialist Economy 7 metre installed for the tariff to work, but careful calculations will need to be made about the cost-effectiveness of the tariff. 

small utility room and dark cloakroom with washing machine

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

Is Economy 7 worth having?

For tariffs like Economy 7 to be worthwhile, households will need to use the majority of energy at night-time, for electric storage heaters or electric heating and/or heating a hot water cylinder via electricity, not just the odd run of the dishwasher. 

Similarly, if you end up using energy during the day, the higher charges might end up costing you more than the savings at night.

Another consideration to make is the increased danger of unsupervised appliances running at night time.

What uses the most electricity in a home? 

'What uses the most electricity in a home?' is now a common question as households look to cut their energy usage, and understandably so. 

Tumble dryers and washing machines on a hot wash tend to use the most electricity in a home, but 'always-on' power users should also be lumped into this category, such as TVs, fridges, and even old light bulbs. 

Ways to save money on these household feature include: 

  • air drying laundry rather than using a tumble dryer
  • using an 'eco' setting on a washing machine at 30º
  • replacing less efficient cold appliances like fridges and freezers with better rated products
  • swapping old light bulbs with the best LED bulb replacements
  • putting TVs and other devices that are usually on stand-by mode on a timer so they automatically turn off at night. 
Amy Reeves

Assistant Editor Amy began working for Homebuilding & Renovating in 2018. She has an interest in sustainable building methods and always has her eye on the latest design ideas. Amy has interviewed countless self builders, renovators and extenders about their experiences for Homebuilding & Renovating magazine. She is currently renovating a mid-century home, together with her partner, on a DIY basis, and has recently fitted her own kitchen.