Do you know what you pay your local power company for a kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy to heat and cool your home, keep the lights on and run all your appliances?
Few of us do, which probably comes as no surprise given our busy lives and limited time to understand the nuances of our energy bill.
But here’s an even bigger surprise: You may be able to pay less for a kWh hour to your electric company if they offer an increasingly popular rate plan.
You may even be able to score free electricity!
Understanding flexible pricing and free electricity
Recently, I opened my electric bill and found a message that promised free electricity.
Free electricity? Sounds great to me. Where do I sign up?
As I investigated, I discovered that my electric company was introducing a new residential rate called NiteFlex.
NiteFlex is being pitched as a way for people with electric vehicles and smart appliances to save money by time-shifting when they use electricity.
Now, I don’t have either of those things, but they aren’t really hard-and-fast prerequisites for this rate, as it turns out.
How do time-shifted rates work?
The basic idea here is that it costs your power company more to generate energy at peak-use times of day versus off-peak times. Makes sense, right? It’s classic supply and demand.
So each kWh you use during off-peak times costs your energy company less than it would during peak times — and they can pass those savings on to you if they wish.
See this chart below for an explainer:
Where does the free electricity part come in?
The free electricity offer is specific to my energy provider. Your may not have the same offer. But this is how it would work for me:
When you sign up for the NiteFlex rate, you’re automatically given up to 400 kWh free per billing cycle during the “Super Off-Peak” period only, which is from 12 midnight to 6 a.m. seven days a week.
Any consumption over 400 kWh during that period is billed at $.0450 per kWh — still a big savings compared to just plain old “Off-Peak” times.
How much could a time-shifted rate potentially save you?
Before we get into the specifics, keep in mind that not every energy company offers time-shifted rates.
However, it is worth a call or a visit to the website of your power company to find it they do — because it could potentially save you big bucks.
Let’s run two scenarios. In the first, I’ll review my bill from last month and crunch it as though all my energy use was “Off-Peak.”
For the second scenario, we’ll look at what my bill would be if I only used energy during “Super Off-Peak” hours.
Here’s our baseline for sake of comparison: I used 377 metered kWh last month for the service period of Sept. 3 – Sept. 30. That resulted in a bill of $60.25 — inclusive of state and local taxes and franchise fees.
Knowing my household patterns, I can tell you the bulk of energy use in my home takes place during “On-Peak” hours between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m.
But here’s what would happen if I could time-shift my use:
Scenario 1 – “Off-Peak”
377 kWh x $.07181 = $27.07
Wow…If I could just time-shift my energy consumption by a few hours in either direction, I could cut my monthly energy bill by 50%!
Scenario 2 – “Super Off-Peak”
My 377 kWh of use last month would have come in below the 400 kWh freebie threshold.
That means I could have a $0 electric bill…if I could just turn into a vampire who sleeps during the day and comes alive at night.
If you do have some flexibility in your schedule and your electric company offers a time-shifted rate, you could potentially put a lot of money back in your pocket!