Deciding what energy plan is right for you requires careful consideration of many factors since everyone uses electricity a little differently. Two houses that are identical could have drastically different energy profiles. For example, if one is full with a family of 5 who uses the laundry, oven, and TVs often, they'll have a higher energy usage than the same house occupied by a quiet retired couple.
Since people and their energy usage are so personal and varied, most utilities offer numerous rate plans with with options to help you save money by optimizing your energy consumption behavior. Since these money-saving plans usually break up the day with more expensive on-peak and less expensive off-peak hours, there's a lot of potential for financial relief by getting engaged. But with all these variables, how can you be sure you're choosing a plan that suits you and your family? To help, we put together a few tips below.
1. Analyze when you use power the most
This can help you determine if a time-of-use plan naturally fits with your schedule. Maybe you work a late afternoon shift were the typically more expensive on-peak hours don't affect you much. Or perhaps you have a large family who usually uses the most energy during on-peak times. These considerations can help you narrow down what rate plans might naturally fit with your lifestyle or exclude ones that might be too difficult to work for you. Most power utilities offer great online tools to help you analyze your energy usage patterns by hour, day and season. Start by creating an on online profile at SRPNet.com, APS.com, or TEP.com. Look back at your history to see when you draw the most power from the grid and how that usage aligns to your desired plan. This is the best way to begin making informed decisions that can save you money.
2. Determine how involved you're willing to be with your energy usage
If you're more of a set it and forget it type or a use it when you want to person, you might not be the best candidate for a time-of-use plan. Under these plans, you should prioritize using your larger appliances during certain hours to avoid paying higher electricity costs. If you're willing to be disciplined and want to realize the most savings on your energy bill, plans that have the most time restrictions could help you realize some pretty significant savings. Be realistic with yourself, your habits, and what you're willing to commit to changing.
3. Ensure your family is on board for your energy plan
If you decide to go on a time-of-use plan or a plan that includes on-peak demand fees, you'll want to be absolutely sure that your family members understand the nuances of the new rate plan and are committed to push as much of their energy usage into the off-peak times. If they're not aware of the specific hours or aren't willing to work with you by decreasing their demand, you could end up paying much more money than if you stayed on a more traditional plan. Conversely, if they are all on-board with the new rules, the savings potential is significant.
4. See if you're a good candidate for solar
Going solar can significantly lower your electric bills and when combined with the right rate plan, solar can even put money back in your pocket. There are a few options for solar rate plans under most Arizona utilities with a number of them combining demand fees with time-of-use programs. As with regular rate plans, not every solar customer will have the same energy profile. The rate plan for someone with close to 100% solar power wouldn't be the right plan for a family using solar to offset a smaller percentage of their needs. Talking with a qualified solar installer who understands all the local utility details intimately is critical to helping you optimize your solar energy system's design to work most effectively with your local utility.
If you’ve been thinking about making the switch to solar, now is a great time to make the switch! We invite you to contact one of our solar experts for a custom solar quote. If you aren't quite ready for a quote, you can download our complimentary whitepaper: Is Solar Right for You?