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What Is The Best Time To Use Electricity?

Many businesses and households often wonder when is the best time to use electricity. Electricity supply is broken into “peak” and “off-peak” timeframes, also referred to as “time-of-use” consumption. Understanding these concepts is vital for business owners as they are able to adapt working routines to effectively manage their energy usage and, in turn, their business electricity bills.

Usually, the best time to use electricity is during off-peak hours; typically between 23:30 and 07:30.

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What Are Off-Peak Electricity Hours?

Off-peak electricity hours are specific time periods when the electricity demand is significantly lower (when compared to peak hours). These times are determined by the reduced overall energy consumption across sectors, including residential, commercial and industrial.

Off-peak hours occur during the late night and early morning when the general public and businesses are less active. Off-peak hours may also apply on weekends and public holidays.

Different regions in the UK have different off-peak hour timeframes, for example:

  • Off-peak hours are between 00:30 – 07:30 in the East Midlands and Northern England
  • Off-peak hours are usually between 23:30 – 07:30 in Scotland

This means that the business electricity supplier has less of a demand to supply energy and business electricity prices tend to be lower.

While it is true that off-peak rates are generally cheaper, it’s important to note that a cheaper deal for your business may not be the best option, as they do not automatically guarantee cost savings. The extent of savings depends on various factors such as business electricity consumption, habits and routines, and unit prices – but more on this in a moment.

What Are The Peak Electricity Hours?

Peak electricity hours usually tend to revolve around the morning and evening periods, as these times coincide with the daily routines of the general public.

  • During 07:00 – 11:00, electricity demand rises as people get ready for their workday or school.
  • During 17:00 – 21:00, the demand is again higher, as this is typically the time individuals are returning home and preparing dinner or using hot water.

The morning and evening peaks are crucial for energy suppliers to manage, as they require additional resources and infrastructure to meet the heightened demand. In saying this, energy suppliers often charge higher rates during peak hours to offset the costs associated with meeting the increased electricity supply.

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Peak electricity hours

  • Peak electricity hours are usually between 07:00 – 11:00 in the morning and 17:00 – 21:00 in the evening.
  • These peak-hour timeframes typically have higher business electricity tariffs.
  • This is due to the increased demand on the national grid and electricity suppliers need additional resources to meet the demand.

Off-peak electricity hours

  • Off-peak hours are usually between 23:30 – 07:30, depending on where you are situated in the UK.
  • Off-peak hours are typically also applied on weekends and public holidays, as commercial and industrial activity is reduced.
  • These off-peak periods usually have lower business electricity prices associated with them; encouraging businesses (and households) to rather consume electricity during these hours.
  • Electricity suppliers have less of a demand to fulfil with the reduced overall energy demand during off-peak hours.

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What To Consider Before Signing Up For Time-Of-Use Electricity Rates

  1. The type of business you own and which industry you fall into (ie SME, large business or industrial enterprise).
  2. Consider how much energy your business consumes in a typical month. This will help you understand the specific business electricity needs and requirements that are best suited for you.
  3. Take a look at your existing business electricity contract from your energy supplier and which business electricity rates are currently applied. This includes fixed-term contracts, rolling contracts, unit prices and standing charges.

Once these elements are considered, you are better equipped to make an informal decision. Depending on your business electricity supply needs and the current prices you pay, off-peak business electricity rates might be the solution.

Can I Change My Habits To Use Electricity During Off-Peak Hours?

As briefly mentioned, switching suppliers for your business does not automatically mean you will save money but there are ways to make it work.

Depending on your consumption habits, operating hours and specific business utility rates (found in your business electricity contract), energy suppliers charge various business electricity tarrifs.

Here are some energy-efficient methods you can implement:

  1. Switch to LED bulbs and turn lights off in rooms that are not in use.
  2. Consider turning off the thermostat and central heating systems during the closing times of your business. Adjusting the temperature by 1 or 2 degrees when the business is in operation can significantly reduce your business’s electricity consumption and save money.
  3. Ensure all office equipment, appliances and machinery are well maintained. Regular servicing of these items will allow them to run at optimal efficiency, playing a role in the amount of electricity they consume.
  4. If your business does (or is able to) consider implementing shift work that is scheduled around off-peak timeframes. That way, employees can work during “cheaper” window periods; keeping productivity up and electricity costs down.
  5. Consider green energy options. Businesses committed to reducing their energy consumption can voluntarily sign up for the government Climate Change Agreement (CCA). This agreement could reduce your business electricity bill by around 90%.
  6. Consider switching to a smart meter to better monitor your business electricity usage and pinpoint areas that can be improved and optimised.
  7. Economy 7 meters (or multi-rate meters) are popular amongst businesses that want to reduce their monthly energy bills. They provide business electricity suppliers with two readings; for peak and off-peak periods. If your electricity is higher during off-peak times, energy prices can/may be reduced.
  8. Check if your business qualifies for a half-hourly meter. These are legal requirements for larger businesses that use a regular peak energy load of 100kW. As the name suggests, these meters send half-hour readings to your business electricity supplier. Pricing is different to residential meters and is based on the energy market wholesale prices.

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Can The Use Of Solar Energy Reduce My Energy Bills?

The use of solar-powered energy can significantly reduce your energy bill. Solar panels are seen as “green energy” thus making the pricing for this business electricity, cheaper. The use of green business electricity alternatives allows you to voluntarily sign up for the Climate Change Agreement (CCA) and be eligible for the Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS).

Speak To The Experts At Business Energy Comparison

If you want to switch business electricity suppliers, it’s worth doing your research. You will need to compare business electricity prices from various suppliers, as not all business electricity tariffs are structured the same.

Business Energy Comparison can help you better understand the electricity and utility market. Our expert energy brokers will assist in sourcing the best energy deal – for both business gas and electricity – for all your business needs, so you don’t have to!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the average business electricity prices?

Based on the UK government statistics for Q1 of 2023, here are the average business electricity prices. These prices do not include the Climate Change Levy (CCL).

  • Very small business: 26,55p per kWh
  • Small business: 23,52p per kWh
  • Medium business: 22,12p per kWh
  • Large business: 20,88p per kWh
  • Very large business: 20,50p per kWh

What energy discount schemes are available for UK businesses?

The UK government has introduced the Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS) aimed at non-commercial customers. This replaced the Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS). Businesses may receive unit price discounts on their business electricity and gas bill between April 2023 to March 2024.

The maximum discount limit – for both Great Britain and Northern Ireland – is determined by the energy wholesale price. Prices are set at £19,61 per MWh and are capped at £302 per MWh.