Peak and Off-Peak Rates for Electricity in the US

With Time-of-Use plans, electricity rates per kilowatt-hour vary according to peak and off-peak times. This means when you use electricity can have a big impact on your bill. These types of plans can be beneficial since reducing your use during peak times can generate big savings, but it's important to know more about your provider's pricing schedule.

How Does it Work?

During peak-use times, higher consumer demand increases the cost to deliver and generate electricity. In Time-of-Use plans your provider passes these fluctuations onto the consumer within your delivery charges. Peak and off-peak rates can vary based on hourly and even seasonal changes in demand. When consumers in your service area all want to use electricity at the same time, your electricity company tries to incentivize consumers to shift their use to off-peak periods.

Depending on your provider, a Time of Use plan may only be a good choice for savings if you are able to shift about 80 percent of your electricity usage to off-peak times.

Peak, Off-Peak, and Super-Peak Pricing at ConEdison in New York State
  8AM to 12AM 12AM to 8AM 2PM to 6PM
June 1 — Sept 30 19.01 cents/kWh 1.34 cents/kWh 19.01 cents/kWh
All other months 7.04 cents/kWh 1.34 cents/kWh N/A

Find out how "heures creuses" work in France.

When are My Peak Hours?

Peak and off-peak hours vary by state and provider. Some providers even have "super-peak" or "mid-peak" times. The best way to find out your fee schedule is to call your provider or visit their website. Your electricity bill may also divide your charges into peak and off-peak usage.

Some common peak times include:

  • Late Afternoon to Early Evening
  • Summers & Winters
  • Weekdays
  • Non-Holidays

Another Peak and Off-Peak Schedule: (Where red = peak times, yellow = mid-peak, & green = off-peak)

Ways to Save

Some providers offer the option to install a smart meter, which breaks down your electricity usage by the hour. By comparing these numbers to your provider's peak times, you can shift your electricity use accordingly.

Some other ways to avoid price spikes during peak rate times include:

  • Run large appliances like your dishwasher and washing machine during off-peak times
  • Turn off electronics when not in use
  • Open or close your blinds to reduce heating and cooling costs
  • Keep your window and door insulation strong
  • Set your computer to hibernate mode when not in use
  • Install a timer in your thermostat to turn of the heat or air conditioning when not in use

Different Types of Rate Plans

  • Fixed-Rate Plan - Your rate per kilowatt-hour remains the same throughout your entire contract period.
  • Variable-Rate Plan - Instead of demand-based rates, your electricity price can change on a monthly basis based on market costs.