Off peak electricity explained

Using off-peak electricity could help discount your bills while making energy more sustainable. Here’s what you need to know about off-peak electricity times and how to save.

When are peak and off-peak electricity times?

Peak electricity, or ‘peak electricity hours’ are the times of day or night when people use more electricity as they get ready for work or school and then return in the evening.

Off-peak electricity also known as ‘off-peak electricity hours’ are quieter periods when people use less electricity and grid demand is lower - usually overnight, on weekends and during peak holiday periods. Some suppliers reward customers with cheaper electricity during off-peak hours.

Using electricity at night, for example to charge your electric vehicle or run Economy 7 storage heaters, can be cheaper with time-of-use, or off-peak electricity rates and tariffs - particularly if you also shift energy-intensive tasks like doing the laundry or charging appliances to the cheaper off-peak times.

What time of day is electricity cheapest?

Off-peak hours can vary between suppliers, where you live and the time of year. For our Economy 7 tariffs and two rate meters, the cheaper night-time tariff runs for 7 hours between midnight and 8am. To see the exact times, check your tariff details, which can easily be found in your online account. You can read more about our Economy 7 tariffs in our understanding Economy 7 meters help guide.

How to save money with off-peak electricity

There’s lots of times when it’s cheaper to use electricity and some energy suppliers are going all out to help their customers benefit from off-peak rates and tariffs or discounts for making changes to when you use electricity.

You’ll need a smart meter to take advantage of off-peak tariffs and rewards from your energy supplier. That way your energy supplier can see exactly when and how much electricity you’re using. Millions of people are already benefiting from smart meters.

If you have an Economy 7 electricity tariff, you may have a dedicated Economy 7 meter or a SMETS2 smart meter that works with your storage heaters.

There are several things you can do to make the most of off-peak electricity savings.

  1. Understand your energy usage

    Take stock of your energy consumption patterns. Identify which appliances contribute the most to peak-hour usage and find ways to shift when you use them to off-peak times.

    Research carried out by British Gas in 2022 revealed that Brits could save an average of £147 per household on their electricity bills each year by switching off ‘vampire devices’ that continue to drain power when left on standby.

    Smart meters will help you to understand when you’re using the most energy and which appliances are contributing to peak-hour usage. Your smart energy monitor (in home display) will show you how much you’re using and when. If you’re with British Gas, you can also monitor your energy usage in your online account.

  2. Invest in smart home technology

    Investing in smart home devices allows you to control appliances remotely. This way you can schedule them to run during off-peak hours even when you’re not at home. Investing a little up front could reap rewards with cheaper energy bills later.

    Products like Hive’s smart thermostat can help you to manage your energy use by making sure you’re only heating your home when needed.

    Hive’s smart home devices can also help you save. For example, radiator valves (TRV’s) let you control when your radiators come on and smart plugs can automate your electrical appliances to run during off-peak times.

  3. Shift your electricity use to off-peak hours

    Save on your electricity bills by shifting energy-intensive tasks like batch cooking, doing the laundry, or charging appliances to off-peak times. Some suppliers offer reduced or discounted rates for using electricity during off-peak hours.

    If your electricity is with British Gas and you have a smart meter, join the hundreds of thousands of customers who’ve signed up to PeakSave and earn credit on your bills for making small changes to when you use electricity.

    • PeakSave Sundays offers half-price electricity between 11am and 4pm on Sundays. Half of any electricity used between these times is credited back to your energy bill.
    • PeakSave Winter offers rewards towards paying for your energy bills and supports the National Grid ESO’s Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) by using less electricity during scheduled events when demand is high.
    • PeakSavers earned more than £1.8 million in the first trial and saved enough electricity to power 750,0000 homes for an hour. Find out more.
  4. Explore time of use plans or tariffs

    Your energy provider may offer time of use tariffs and cheaper night-time rates. For example:

    • EV tariffs

    If you have an electric vehicle, take advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity night-time rates. There are no rules on what you can use the cheaper night-time electricity for, so you can run high-energy appliances like the washing machine and dishwasher, or charge up your smartphones, laptops and tablets at the same time.

    Check out our Electric Vehicle tariff for cheaper off-peak electricity every day between 12am and 5am.

    • Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs

    If you have electric storage heaters, you may be on an Economy 7 tariff as they provide cheaper, off-peak electricity during 7 hours of the night, when energy is typically lower in demand, that can be stored and used when you need it.

    Do you have Dimplex Quantum storage heaters? You may be eligible for our Dimplex Quantum tariff, which offers a cheaper night-rate than our standard Economy 7 tariffs.

    Some off-peak tariffs provide cheaper electricity over 10 hours of the night – called Economy 10.

Half-price electricity every Sunday

We’re proud partners of Team GB and ParalympicsGB – get set for your big event every Sunday with half-price electricity from 11am to 4pm.

More about PeakSave

What appliances use the most electricity?

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the following appliances use the most electricity at home:

  • Wet appliances - washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers account for 14% of a typical energy bill. The power needed to heat the water that they use pushes up consumption, making them energy-hungry household appliances.
  • Cold appliances - fridges and freezers account for around 13% of the average household’s energy bill. These appliances need to stay on all the time, so they’re continually drawing power to maintain a constant temperature.
  • Consumer electricals - from laptops to TVs to game consoles in today’s busy households, these account for around 6% of your energy bill.
  • Lighting takes up around 5% of an average home’s total energy bill.
  • Cooking - around 4% of your energy bill is spent on powering kitchen appliances, including the hob, oven, kettle, and microwave.

What’s the advantages of using electricity during off peak times? 

There are significant advantages to using electricity during off-peak times.

  1. Cost savings
    Perhaps the most enticing benefit of off-peak electricity is the potential for significant cost savings. Some energy providers offer reduced rates during off-peak hours, allowing you to power your home at a lower cost compared to peak hours.
  2. Environmental impact
    Opting for off-peak electricity doesn’t just benefit your wallet, it’s a win for the environment too. By shifting your electricity use to off-peak times, you help decrease the strain on power plants, which often rely on burning fossil fuels to meet high demand. Moving your electricity use to off-peak times can help make better use of cleaner, greener energy.
  3. Load balancing
    Off-peak electricity helps balance the energy load across the grid. When more people consume electricity during off-peak hours, it reduces the strain on the grid during peak times, helping overall grid stability.
  4. Managing home appliances
    Off-peak electricity encourages strategic use of appliances, such as running your dishwasher, washing machine, or charging electric vehicles during low-demand hours. This not only lowers your energy bills but can also extend the lifespan of your appliances.
  5. Energy independence
    By taking advantage of off-peak hours, you gain a level of energy independence. You become more in control of your energy consumption and costs, helping you to better manage the volatility of fluctuating energy prices.

Debunking the myths of using electricity at off peak times 

You may need to think about how making small changes to how and when you use electricity can work for you, but there’s really no reasons why you shouldn’t give it a go.

  1. Off-peak hours are inconvenient
    On the contrary. With appliances like dishwashers and washing machines equipped with timers, you can set them to operate during off-peak hours, and build that into your daily routine.
  2. Off-peak electricity is inferior
    Not true. Off-peak electricity is the same high-quality power you receive during peak hours. The only difference is the time you choose to use it.
  3. It’s only for night-owls

    While off-peak hours do include night-time, they also extend to early mornings, weekends, and holidays. And with the help of programmable timers, you can set your appliances to come on and off at times to fit in with your schedule.

Off-peak electricity offers a host of benefits in savings, the environment and energy efficiency. By embracing this approach, you’re not only making a smart financial choice, but also contributing to a more sustainable future with the power to take control of your energy consumption.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do British Gas offer off-peak electricity?

British Gas offers several schemes and tariffs to provide you with cheaper off-peak electricity

  • Join the hundreds and thousands of customers who’ve signed up for PeakSave Sundays and get rewarded with half-price electricity between 11am and 4pm every Sunday
  • Got an electric vehicle? Get our Electric Vehicle tariff for cheaper off-peak electricity every day between 12am and 5am.
  • If you have electric storage heaters, you may be on an Economy 7 tariff as they provide cheaper, off-peak electricity during 7 hours of the night, when energy is typically lower in demand, that can be stored and used when you need it.

You’ll need a smart meter to benefit from off-peak electricity rates. If you have an Economy 7 or Economy 10 electricity tariff, you may have a dedicated Economy 7 meter or a SMETS2 smart meter that works with your storage heaters.

Am I eligible for off-peak electricity?

If you have a smart meter, check your energy provider’s website to find out what offers or tariffs they provide for off-peak electricity use.

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

Have a look on your electricity bill or smart meter monitor. If it shows both a day and a night rate, you’re on a time-of-use tariff. You can also look directly at your meter. This might show two dials, one for peak and one for off-peak.

Can I switch from a peak and off-peak tariff back to a single rate plan?

If you’re on an Economy 7 plan that’s no longer right for you, check if your current provider will let you move to a single-rate plan. Most of the big suppliers will change your Economy 7 meter for free and are likely to give you the option of a smart meter too. If you’re on an EV tariff, then you won’t need to change your smart meter.

What is the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS)

The Demand Flexibility Service is run by the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) and energy suppliers help to deliver it. The ESO is responsible for making sure there’s enough energy available to power Great Britain whenever it’s needed.  

When demand for energy is high, sometimes there’s not enough energy for everyone who needs it. In these situations, ESO must switch on fossil fuel power plants. These power plants are bad for the environment and make energy bills higher for us all.  

The Demand Flexibility Service reduces the need to turn on these power plants. It also helps the ESO maintain a steady supply of electricity, helping us all save money on our bills and lower our collective carbon footprint. 

The DFS first launched in winter 2022 and British Gas supported through the PeakSave Winter scheme when more than 200,000 customers – PeakSavers – collectively saved 147 MWh of electricity over 12 events - enough to power 750,000 homes for an hour - and earned more than £1.8 million.

What are time of use tariffs?

Time of use tariffs use different prices to encourage consumers to use electricity at off-peak times. They offer people cheaper electricity prices when demand and energy prices are at their lowest. They work with smart meters. 

It’s a win-win for everyone - helping Britain to better balance energy demand and customers to lower their bills.

Check out our Electric Vehicle tariff for cheaper off-peak electricity every day between 12am and 5am.

 

If you have electric storage heaters, our Economy 7 tariff provides cheaper, off-peak electricity during 7 hours of the night when demand is low, that can be stored and used when you need it.

Want to know more

Average energy bill

How does the energy you use compare to the typical UK household?

An average energy bill

Your energy bill

Understand what all the information on your energy bill means.

Explain my bill

Energy saving tips

Reduce your bill and your carbon footprint – try our energy saving tips.

Save energy