Monday, January 4, 2010

Time-of-Use Electricity Prices & How To Adapt

Back in October 2009 our household received a notice that the Time-of-Use price schedule is in effect. Two things happened. Firstly the PowerStream notified us that the new Electricity Prices & Charges for York Region customers are in effect since September 1st, 2009. Little late notice. Secondly, they send us historical data based on last year electricity consumption data that give us a comparison of constant rates versus the time-of-use rates. Another disappointment, if we were to be on the time-of-use method last year, we would have paid more for electricity by $2.33.

However, the Time-of-Use for York Region is in effect and there is nothing we can do but adapt. The Time-of-Use has different electricity rates, depending when the electricity is used. It has three periods, Off-peak, Mid-peak and On-peak. The most expensive rate of course is during On-peak. For example, our Time-of-Use rates from PowerStream are: for Off-Peak is $0.042 per kWh, for Mid-Peak is $0.076 per kWh, and On-Peak is $0.091 per kWh.

Another interesting fact about the Time-of-Use is that the price do change for on, mid and off-peak between Summer and Winter. The hours for On-Peak prices for summer season (May 1 - October 31) are between 11 am and 5 pm. The hours for On-Peak prices for winter season (November 1 - April 30) are from 5 pm to 9 pm. The PowerStream recommends to run dishwasher and dryer after 9 pm, or on weekends or holidays. But then how about the oven - another great electricity eater, coincidentally we need to eat too. The On-Peak during winter season falls on dinner time, a time when parents, children get home and dinners are being prepared. But then what could be worst, cooking dinner during summer time and running the air conditioner.

Now let me tell you how we changed our life style to follow the Time-of-Use price periods.
  • As per recommendations we run our dryer after 9 pm and weekends or holidays, and if the laundry really needs to be done, then just washer is used, and clothes are hanged.
  • We need to eat. Therefore, I use my toaster oven which uses much less energy than the regular oven.
  • We do batch cooking after 9 pm.
  • Air conditioning will be interesting, it all depends how hot next summer will be. May be we should finish the basement, as it is always cooler in the lower parts of the house.
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has much better recommendations how to Make The Shift to the Time-of-Use price periods and the Ontario Power Authority - Every Kilowatt Counts has a lot of good information for you to study.