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Is electricity cheaper at night?

We’re all looking to save money where we can – especially in the middle of an energy crisis. But when is the best time to run your appliances? Is electricity cheaper at night?

Here’s what you need to know about peak and off-peak electricity times.

We’re all looking to save money where we can – especially in the middle of an energy crisis. But when is the best time to run your appliances? Is electricity cheaper at night?

Here’s what you need to know about peak and off-peak electricity times.

Written by
Sajni Shah
Utilities comparison expert
Last Updated
18 JANUARY 2024
6 min read
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What are peak and off-peak electricity times?

Peak electricity times are the hours during the day and evening when most people will be using electricity. Off-peak electricity times are when power demand is at its lowest – typically during the small hours of the morning.

Because of this, many energy providers offer Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs (also known as time-of-use tariffs), which have specific night rate times in the UK when they charge less for energy usage. To be eligible for these tariffs, you'll usually need to have an E7 meter or smart meter installed.

What time of day is electricity cheapest?

The cheapest off-peak electricity times can vary between providers, where you live and the time of year. But electricity is generally cheapest from late at night until early morning.

This means that electricity will typically be more expensive during peak daytime hours.

Is electricity cheaper at night? 

Whether electricity will be cheaper for you at night depends on the type of tariff you’re on.

Certain tariffs, like Economy 7 and more modern smart off-peak plans, are designed to save you money overnight when electricity costs less because fewer people are using it.

Homes on these tariffs need either a dual-rate meter or a smart meter, which can record how much electricity you’re using at different times of the day. This allows your supplier to charge you a cheaper rate during off-peak times.

Of course, your electricity bills will only be cheaper if you make the most of the off-peak times. For example, you could take advantage of the cheaper overnight rate to:

  • Run appliances such as a dishwasher
  • Charge electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops
  • Charge an electric car.

How can I benefit from off-peak electricity?

To benefit from cheaper hours to run your appliances, you’ll need to be on an off-peak or time-of-use tariff. Here are a few examples:

Economy 7 and Economy 10 

An Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff offers you seven or 10 hours of cheaper electricity, respectively. They’re a great option for those who use a lot of energy during the night. For example, if you have electric night storage heaters. But daytime rates can be steep, and you’ll only save money on these tariffs if you use at least 40% of your electricity at night.

Agile Octopus 

Octopus Energy has gone one step further with its Agile Octopus Plunge Pricing tariff. You’ll be alerted when prices drop below zero and can programme your smart devices so they can take advantage of the situation too.

The idea is that you save money when wholesale prices fall. But in the current climate, Octopus says that rates are ‘consistently high’, so most households will be better off on a standard variable or fixed tariff for now.

Going forward, this type of time-of-use tariff could change strict on and off-peak times to something more flexible.

Will using an off-peak tariff definitely be cheaper?

There’s no guarantee that an off-peak tariff will definitely be cheaper. What matters is the price of the units and when you use the power.

So if you have, say, an Economy 7 tariff but tend to use most of your electricity during the day, you could be paying more than you would on a normal type of tariff.

With some time-of-use tariffs, the daytime rate can be nearly twice as much as the off-peak rate, so you’ll need to take into account how much you’ll use during peak times to see if it’s worthwhile.

How can I cut the cost of my electricity?

Make sure you know your off-peak and peak times and try to concentrate your power use in the off-peak period. And make sure your supplier tells you when your meter switches from one tariff to the other. Getting it wrong by just a few minutes every day could really add up over the course of a year.

Also, be aware that the meter may not change when the clocks do – every March and October.

If you have storage radiators, make sure you know how they work so that you can store heat during the night and release it during the day.

If off-peak tariffs aren’t for you, there are other ways to
cut your energy bills:

  • Don’t use your tumble dryer — it’s much cheaper to dry clothes on the line
  •  Don’t charge your phone unnecessarily — unplug it when it's 100%
  • Don’t leave gadgets on standby — unplugging them completely will save you money.
  •  Draught-proof your doors and fit curtains or blinds
  •  Use solar-powered lights outside.

Check out more of our energy-saving tips.

Frequently asked questions

Is it cheaper to wash clothes at night?

Running appliances at night could be more cost-efficient if you’re up and awake. For example, running the washing machine or tumble dryer as you get ready for bed, or first-thing in the morning if you get up early. You could even use timers to switch on appliances at the same time your alarm goes off.

However, the fire service recommends not running appliances while you’re asleep. They attend an appliance-related fire every day, and night-time fires are far more dangerous and likely to spread while you’re asleep.

How can I find out if I’m on an off-peak tariff?

Take a look at your electricity bill. If it shows both a day and a night rate, you’re on some kind of time-of-use tariff. You can also have a look at your meter. This might show two dials — one for peak and one for off-peak.

Can I shop around for cheaper tariffs if I’m on Economy 7 or Economy 10?

Yes, it’s always worth comparing tariffs to make sure you’re on the cheapest deal for your household. To find out whether you could save on your energy bills, start an energy quote comparison with Compare the Market today.

When are the Economy 7 and Economy 10 off-peak electricity times?

You can typically expect your off-peak electricity times to fall somewhere between 10pm and 8am.

However, the exact times can vary depending on which energy supplier you’re with and where you live. It may also change depending on the time of year and might not be a continuous block of hours.

To find out your off-peak hours, call your energy supplier or check your bill.

How much do my appliances cost to use?

The cost of running your appliances will depend on how energy-efficient they are and how you use them. For example, it’s cheaper and more energy-efficient to run a fully-loaded dishwasher at the end of the day, than a half-load at lunchtime.

When you’re buying new appliances, look at the energy ratings. These run from A to G, with A being the most efficient. This should enable you to see how an appliance compares with similar ones based on the latest standards.

How do I switch from a peak-and-off-peak tariff to a single rate?

If you feel a time-of-use tariff is no longer right for you, check if your current provider will let you move to a single-rate one. You may need to have your meter changed.

Most of the big suppliers will change the meter for free and are likely to give you the option of a smart meter too, which can help you monitor your power use better. You can compare with us to see if you could save money on a new energy deal too.

What should I do if my situation has changed and I now use more power during the day?

If you’re now using more power during the day – for example, you work from home some or all of the time – contact your supplier. They will let you know how much electricity you’re using and how much your off-peak tariff is costing you.

With higher daytime rates, you might spend less if you switch from a time-of-use tariff to a single tariff option.

Sajni Shah - Consumer expert on utilities and money

Sajni is passionate about building products, allowing Compare the Market to help you make great financial decisions. She keeps track of the latest trends and evolving markets to find new ways to help you save money.

Learn more about Sajni

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