Many of Wake Electric’s members have saved significant amounts of money by switching from their regular residential rate to the “time of use” rate. By limiting electricity use for just two hours a day — 5 to 7 p.m. in summer and 6 to 8 a.m. in winter — many members have already saved almost $200 this year. That means they could save as much as $400 on electric bills in 2018.
What is the difference between the regular rate and the time of use rate?
Wake Electric’s regular residential rate is 10.944 cents per kWh. Wake Electric’s residential “time of use” off-peak rate is 8 cents per kWh, a 26.9 percent discount.
Members can enjoy the off-peak rate for 22 hours per day (Monday–Friday) and all day on weekends and holidays. That means members save with time of use off-peak rates for 94 percent of the hours in the year.
Why would Wake Electric give such a big discount just for not using much electricity for two specific hours a day?
Peaks occur during times when many people need electricity at once. These typically occur on cold winter mornings and hot summer afternoons. The “rush hours” affect the cost of power. You can help keep these costs stable by voluntarily shifting the time you use large appliances, like dishwashers, heating and air conditioning, ovens, and clothes dryers. You can also save money by adjusting your thermostat, water heater, programmable thermostat and lighting during the “on-peak” two-hour window.
So what’s the catch?
Any power used during the two-hour on-peak hours is really expensive — 40 cents per kWh. To save money, you’ll need to avoid using as much electricity as possible during that two-hour on-peak period. Many members use a water heater timer and thermostat setbacks to do this automatically. Of course, avoid doing laundry or running the dishwasher as well.
How can Wake Electric offer such a deep discount for 94 percent of the time?
Because much of our variable cost is determined during the other 6 percent of the time when members usually use the most electricity and electric loads are the highest. The electric distribution system is designed and built to operate during that 6 percent of the time. New electric generation facilities are built to provide power during that 6 percent of the time.
Not sure if the program will work for you?
Wake Electric talked with some members who have enjoyed significant savings with the time of use rate. Here is what they have to say.
Georgia Helms (Raleigh) has used time of use rate for many years. She says to really see significant savings, her family has made behavior changes: “I really like that the time of use program only has a two hour on-peak window. Having a narrow time slot makes cutting down on electricity a lot easier. There just two hours a day when my family doesn't do laundry or use the oven. When it comes to cooking in the summer, there are lots of ways around using the oven in early evening. We use the crock pot, the toaster oven, and heat up leftovers in the microwave. If we do need to run a large 220-volt appliance during on-peak hours, we have a rule to only run one large appliance at the time. And holidays and week-ends are like bonus days – on those days, there are no on-peak hours so we can run more than one large appliance any time of the day with no restrictions.”
For Georgia, the program works for her family because they found a balance between savings and convenience. “My family, once they were used to the routine of when to limit electricity use, sticks to it. When the seasonal rate changes from summer peak to winter peak [6 a.m. to 8 a.m.] hours, I put sticky notes on the stove and dryer to remind everyone of the new on-peak hours. And I’ll use sticky notes for general reminders on some of the large appliances that say, for example, ‘Please turn off the A/C if you use another appliance.’ Little reminders help make it easy.”
Terry Robinson (Youngsville) has developed a routine approach to achieve maximum savings. “I use a programmable thermostat. So, for example, in the summer time, the air conditioner is set to run for a certain amount of time and then turn off at 5 p.m. The A/C stays off for two hours but the house stays cool. You aren’t doing laundry or cooking during that time so that helps keep the house cooler. Of course, during that two-hour window you can use your lights, computer, and television. It does take some adjustment at first, but it’s easy to do things at different times. One big help is to use a timer — there are timers out there for appliances that turn them off and on automatically so you don’t have to.”
Lisa Sun (Wake Forest) says her family has become very conscientious about how and when they use electricity. “We haven’t found it difficult to be on the time of use rate. You just have to be disciplined and once you start to see the monthly savings, it’s easy to do. … Occasionally someone forgets and might, for example, do laundry at 6 p.m. in the summer and I’ll say, ‘Why are you doing laundry now? Wait until after 7.’ And usually it’s just that they forgot.”
Karen Perez-Kuryla (Youngsville) says in 2016 she read in Carolina Country that Wake Electric offered a pilot program to encourage members to try out time of use rates. She’d been on time of use previously in Fayetteville and when she read that on-peak was only two hours a day, she knew her husband and two boys could easily stick to the time of use program. For Karen, while savings is important, convenience is equally so. “It’s not difficult to manage the program. We focus on not using the dishwasher, washer, and dryer during those times. I run my dishwasher on the delayed timer setting. We take showers later so we don’t run the water heater during on-peak hours. It’s not difficult and makes us more conscientious about our electricity use.”