Air conditioner on or off? Don’t sweat over peak time energy prices

Aussies are mistakenly sweating through the summer months through fear of paying high peak time energy prices.

A new Canstar Blue survey has highlighted the misconception from some households that think they are paying high peak time energy prices, when in reality they are not.

More than half of those surveyed (53%) said they intentionally reduce their energy consumption during the evenings to avoid peak time power prices, with washing machines, air conditioners and clothes dryers top of the list of appliances not used.

However, when asked if their power usage is measured on a time of use tariff, just 14% of these people said this is the case, with 36% on a single rate tariff and 50% not sure what type of tariff they’re on.

Canstar Blue Editor-in-Chief Simon Downes explained: “The reality is that few households pay for power on a time of use tariff, meaning they pay different prices at different times of day, and peak time rates can be very high. For these people, cutting back on energy usage during the evenings is essential to avoid huge bills.

“However, the vast majority of households are still on single rate tariffs, meaning they pay the same rates throughout the day. There is clearly an issue with many consumers cutting back on using their appliances because they’re worried about being slugged high peak time rates, when the chances are, they’re not.

“In taking the ‘just in case’ approach, they’re not wasting any money, but they are inconveniencing themselves, especially when it comes to cooling their home on those hot summer nights.”

Of the survey respondents who cut back on energy usage at peak times, six out of ten (61%) admitted that they’re not sure if they actually pay peak time prices, but cut back on power just in case. In addition, 72% remind others in their home to reduce their energy usage.

Are you on a time of use tariff?

Only households with a smart meter installed can pay for power on a time of use tariff. This is because smart meters can record the hour of day that electricity is used, whereas traditional meters cannot.

However, not all households with a smart meter will be on a time of use energy tariff. You should only be on this type of tariff if you have agreed a plan with your energy retailer. To check if you’re paying different rates at different times of day, check a recent bill. If in doubt, check with your energy retailer.

In the example above, the household is not on a time of use tariff. It pays an ‘Anytime’ rate which is the same price regardless of time of day, plus a lower controlled load rate for water heating and daily supply charge, in this case referred to as a ‘Service to Property Charge’.

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