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Is Electricity Cheaper at Night?

Everyone wants to save money on their energy bills, from domestic customers to those responsible for running businesses. Usually, the first step most people take is to make an energy supplier comparison and choosing the best deal with Business Energy Comparison.

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Is electricity cheaper at night?

In a bid to make those savings, many would-be switchers also commonly ask the question is electricity cheaper at night?

It’s a pretty sensible assumption, based on the idea that electricity is likely to be cheaper at a time when there’s less demand. Most businesses are closed for the day. And the majority of domestic customers are tucked up in bed.

However, the reality of it is a little more complicated. Yes, it can be cheaper – for both domestic and business energy customers. But only if you’re on the right tariff – an off-peak tariff that offers electricity at a cheaper rate.

Off-Peak Electricity tariffs explained

So, what is an off-peak electricity tariff? And how does it provide cheaper electricity at night?

Well, first we need to define what peak time is. This is typically defined as the daytime – when energy consumption peaks because most businesses are open.

Off-peak times aren’t quite so set in stone. In the UK, there’s no blanket period. Instead, the times for off-peak electricity tariffs are defined by individual suppliers. So, you may well find when comparing off-peak tariffs that both the prices and the finer details vary depending on the supplier.

Generally, the off-peak energy period falls anywhere between 10 pm and 8 am. This is the point during the day where the strain on the National Grid eases, and some (but certainly all) energy suppliers will offer cheaper electricity at night.

Some suppliers will title them differently, but the tariffs offering these cheaper
rates will most likely be either; Economy 7 or Economy 10.

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It’s a multi-rate plan for your electricity supply. You might also hear it referred to as a peak / off-peak tariff.

It’s available to business and domestic customers. You’ll essentially pay two rates for your electricity: a regular day rate, and a cheaper rate for seven overnight hours (hence the 7).

So, for example, if you own a bar or nightclub that predominantly operates during late-night / early-morning hours, you could potentially save money on your business electricity with an Economy 7 tariff. This is because you’ll be consuming most of your electricity during those cheaper rate hours.

However, the standard day rate or peak time will be more expensive than a standard rate. This means if you operate for a period during the day, before reopening late at night, your business probably wouldn’t benefit from being on Economy 7.

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What are Economy 7 times?

It’ll differ from supplier to supplier, so it’s worth checking. For most, the off-peak period runs from 12 am (midnight) through to 7 am.

How to read an Economy 7 Meter

To sign-up for an Economy 7 tariff, you’ll need to have a special meter – specifically designed to provide two sets of usage readings.

01 Traditional

The traditional version of this meter will feature two sets of numbers. One records day usage, and the other records electricity usage during the night (or those off-peak hours).

02 Digital

The digital version of this meter will only provide one set of numbers at any one time. This means you’ll have to cycle through them to get to RATE 1 (R1) and RATE 2 (R2) You’ll need to ensure you check with your supplier which is the day, and which is night (off-peak).

It’s important to provide the correct readings – mixing them up could prove to be a very costly mistake!

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What is an Economy 10 Tariff?

An Economy 10 tariff follows the same principle as Economy 7, but rather than providing you with seven hours of off-peak rates, it provides 10 hours of off-peak rates. There’s a big difference: these off-peak periods are split across day and night.

These tariffs provide a wealth of flexibility. However, it’s worth noting that Economy 10 tariffs aren’t as common as they once were – not many suppliers offer them today.

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What are the hours for Economy 10?

When your Economy 10 off-peak hours are in the day will vary depending on several factors – such as the region you’re based in, the time of year etc.

However, for much of the UK, they’ll fall between 1 pm and 4 pm, 8 pm and 10 pm, and 12 am (midnight) and 5 am.

How to read an Economy 10 Meter

Reading your Economy 10 meter is exactly the same as reading an Economy 7 meter – so, you’ll find all the useful information you need in the ‘How to Read an Economy 7 Meter’ section of this page.

01 Why are Economy 7 and Economy 10 Meters Known as 'Complex' Meters?'

This is because they provide two different meter readings, rather than the one you’d have on a standard tariff. It also provides room for confusion if you don’t fully understand which reading is for which rate.

If you do have any queries, it’s worth contacting your energy supplier to find out which is which.

02 What happens when the clocks changes

They don’t automatically switch, unfortunately. You’ll have to adjust them manually. It’s worth noting that some suppliers simply use winter times (GMT) throughout the entire year.

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Is electricity cheaper at night

Is Electricity cheaper at night on these tariffs?

So, is electricity cheaper at night if you have an E7 or E10 tariff? Yes, it is. If you run a business that primarily operates late at night or early in the morning, you could potentially save a lot of money on the amount you pay by switching to one.

However, there is a caveat, and it’s a pretty big one – to get the most benefit, and the cheapest deal, your business would need to be one that consumes most of its energy during those off-peak hours.

So, if your business was, for example, a bar, nightclub, takeaway, distribution centre etc., you may well be able to benefit.

If you use energy during these hours, as well as some during the day, you could stand to save more by comparing standard deals to help you reduce business energy costs. This is because the amount you’d be paying for those regular daytime hours would be more expensive on an Economy 7 or 10 tariff.

What can you do to reduce business energy costs?

Now we know electricity can be cheaper at night, what can you do to reduce your bills?

You could switch to an off-peak tariff – if it’s going to work around your hours of operation.

If you’re already on one of these tariffs, you could ensure that any tasks that require power- intensive appliances are set to complete during these cheaper  rate times – such as setting the dishwasher or the washing machine to run during these hours (provided they’re working hours). It’s also good to make sure your commercial appliances have a good energy efficiency rating.

Depending on how flexible your business is, you could potentially build your operational hours around the cheaper usage periods. However, it’s understandable that this won't be a practical solution for the majority of organisations.

Your next step should be to make sure you’re on the very deal for your needs. How do you do this? By using Business Energy Comparison!

We’ll help your business find the best electricity prices on the market, with deals tailored to your requirements. We’ll also help you compare standard (peak tariffs) against off-peak tariffs.

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Start your journey and compare business gas and electricity rates with Business Energy Comparison today. Use our price comparison tool and in less time than it takes to make a brew, we’ll compile your best prices from the UK’ s best suppliers.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I have an off-peak electricity tariff?

You’ll be able to find this on your electricity bill, or by looking at your meter. If there are two readings (on traditional meters), or two separate displays (on digital meters), you’ll know you’re on an off-peak tariff.

Is it safe to run appliances at night?

No. You should avoid leaving your appliances to run during the night if no one is going to be on-site. The reasons are exactly the same as they are for domestic households. If something goes wrong and there’s no one on the premises, it presents a serious safety risk.

Should appliances be left on standby?

Not if you want to save money on your electricity bills. Computers, printers, scanners and phone chargers are amongst some of the worst offenders for electricity usage when left on standby. If you want to reduce the power they consume, switch them off when you’re not using them.