What Does Free Nights/Weekends Really Mean?
By now you’ve probably seen advertisements from energy suppliers featuring plans that offer free power at night or on weekends. Sounds like a great deal, right? At face value it is, but as with many things in life, it isn’t that simple.
Here’s a quick rundown of how these plans work and what influences the true cost.
Why These Energy Plans Are Offered
Before jumping into the details, let’s first take a look at why energy plans with “free” nights and weekends are offered. These plans encourage consumers to use energy in off-peak hours when wholesale prices are the lowest. Energy demand has steadily increased over the years, and it puts a serious strain on the aging electric grid. Spreading energy use over the full day may also circumvent the need for building additional power plants.
A variation of this is the time-of-use energy plans, which also hope to ease demand during peak hours. With this plan, the kilowatt-hour rate varies at different times, with the highest rate during the afternoon when demand peaks and the lowest rates are at night when demand drops.
In a New York Times article a few years ago, some major energy suppliers conceded that “free” plans are also a marketing tool in a very competitive market. Consumers see the word “free” and think the plan will automatically lead to savings. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, and there’s another significant drawback.
Pay Attention to the Rate During the Day
Free nights and weekends may seem like a good deal until you factor in the rate you pay during the daytime hours. That’s the trade-off. You get free power from 9pm to 6am, but there’s a good chance you’ll pay more during the rest of the day compared to other energy plans.
Before signing up for a free nights and weekends plan it’s a good idea to take a look at your current energy bills to see when you use electricity. It can help you determine if you’ll save more with free nights/weekends or spend more with higher rates during the day.
Free Energy Plans May Require a Lifestyle Adjustment
If your regular schedule has you going to bed around 10pm you probably won’t benefit much from free energy at night. And if you spend most of the weekend away from home you’re not going to be able to take advantage of “free” energy.
With most plans, the free period begins at 9pm and goes until around 6am. Saving money may require a significant lifestyle change, or at the very least being more mindful and forgoing certain activities when they’re most convenient. For some people, making adjustments to maximize free energy use is fairly easy. For others, it’s a real challenge.
Free Energy Plans Can Encourage Wasteful Habits
Energy conservationists have pointed out one drawback of free energy plans that probably wasn’t anticipated. It can encourage energy waste. When the electricity is “free” some consumers aren’t as vigilant about turning off lights or the TV when they leave the room. Washing and drying a half load of laundry after 9pm isn’t as big a deal because it doesn’t add to the utility bill.
It does, however, use electricity. As we continue to see an increase in energy demand, the goal is to spread use out across the day and promote conservation. To a certain degree, free energy plans are counterintuitive, especially if people continue using the same amount of energy during peak hours.
Spark Energy makes powering a home or business affordable by offering low rates every hour of the day seven days a week. We also offer a fixed price all-you-can-use plan in Texas. Find competitively priced gas and electricity plans today!