What Are Time-of-Use Rates?
Unitil has historically offered a one-size-fits-all electricity rate, billed by kilowatt hour (kWh). However, recently introduced Time-of-Use (TOU) rates give customers the power to realize significant savings by shifting tasks that require electricity to off-peak hours when costs are the lowest. In other words, the cost per kilowatt hour will vary depending on when the electricity is used.
Time of Use (TOU) rates were introduced to Unitil’s New Hampshire electric customers in July of 2022 and Massachusetts electric customers in April 2023. A Whole House TOU rate is available to NH residential customers, while an Electric Vehicle (EV) TOU rate is available to NH and MA residential as well as NH commercial customers.
As of October 2022 - time-of-use rates are broken up into three pricing tiers: mid-peak, on-peak, and off-peak. Mid-peak hours are Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.; pricing for mid-peak hours is approximately the same as the standard rate. On-peak hours are Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; pricing for on-peak hours is about three times the standard rate. Off-peak hours are weekdays between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., plus all weekend and holiday hours; pricing for off-peak hours is approximately 30% less than the standard rate. These times and rates are subject to change. The current times and rates can be found at unitil.com/rates.
Electricity consumption in the United States was about 3.9 trillion kilowatt hours (kWh) in 2021. (U.S. Energy Information Administration)
Unitil has expanded its rates to include a time-of-use option so that customers can exercise greater control over their electricity costs by shifting their heaviest usage to off-peak times of the day. Time-of-use rates also reduce the ever-increasing demand on the power grid as a whole, reducing the likelihood of overload.
Saving Money with Time of Use Rates
If you’re in a position where you can move most of your electricity consumption to after 8 p.m. or weekends (think: washing machine, clothes dryer, dishwasher, pool pump), you may see savings on your electric bill. In exchange for a discount on off-peak energy consumption, time-of-use customers agree to pay a higher rate during the hours of peak demand. Visit our website for a list of current electric rates, or use our rate comparison calculator to see if time-of-use rates are a good fit for your household.
While it’s not possible to restrict your use of refrigeration to off-peak hours, many large appliances such as dishwashers and clothes washers can be programmed to delay their run cycles until evening or overnight hours. Here are some additional considerations for those considering making the switch:
- Take inventory of the appliances and devices in your home. Do you have any large appliances that run on natural gas or propane instead of electricity (for example, a clothes dryer or water heater)?
- Is it feasible to shift chores to evenings and weekends when electricity rates are at their lowest? This can include pool filters and dehumidifiers as well.
- Can you charge phones, laptops, electric vehicles, and other devices only during off-peak hours?
- Don’t forget to look for energy vampires, which passively consume electricity around the clock – even when not in use.
- If you can, adjust the thermostat by a couple of degrees during on-peak hours, and don’t leave fans running in unoccupied rooms.
If shifting most of your electricity usage away from on-peak hours isn’t possible, remaining on the standard rate is your best option. However, time-of-use rates are a great fit for consumers who appreciate having control over their electricity costs and are able to make adjustments to when they use energy to realize a cost savings. By helping the grid run more efficiently, you’re helping the environment as well.
There’s no charge to switch to time-of-use, but it may be necessary for us to install a new electric meter, at no cost to you. Whole-house time-of-use customers commit to a 12-month term on these rates, after which you are free to return to standard billing if you wish. To learn more or sign up, visit our website contact form or call 888-301-7700.
- Participation in a Time-of-Use rate is optional, and the standard rate remains available to all Unitil electric customers.
- Whole-house time-of-use rates are currently available to New Hampshire residential electric customers.
- There is no cost to switch to whole-house time-of-use billing, but there is a 12-month commitment after which you can return to standard billing if you wish.