Free Power Electricity plans
Free Power plans seem almost too good to be true - during certain times of the day or week, your electricity could be free! But you have to be careful, and you will need to make a real commitment to change your energy usage habits to get the fullest possible benefits.
First, you should examine what time periods the plan specifies for receiving the free power. Some plans give you free energy during the evening hours, while others give you free energy during the weekends. You should think about your lifestyle and determine which of these time periods would be most useful to you.
Now, you need to determine what kinds of electrical usage you can move into the free periods. You should think about the big energy usage items which you can easily choose when and if you want them to run, like pools, electric dryers, washing machines, dishwashers, etc. Some things are hard to shift around, like air conditioners. If your house is well insulated, you might be able to program your thermostat to take advantage of the free time periods.
Finally, you should read the Energy Facts Label very carefully. Depending on how the company has structured the plan, you might still receive a distribution charge for the energy used during the 'free' period, even though the energy charge during that time is zero.
So how do they do it?
You might be wondering just how any company can afford to give their product away - and that's a good question! It comes down to when the electrical power grid has the highest loads. This is usually in the mornings when everyone is getting ready for work, and in the afternoons and early evenings when air conditioners are running and people get home and attend to their daily tasks. During those periods of high usage, the wholesale prices for electricity can spike up because all the power generation plants are running full speed to meet the high demand. Conversely, when the load is very low, the wholesale price for the electricity tends to be much much lower. By moving your usage from peak hours to off-peak hours, the electricity provider will be able to purchase the wholesale electricity at a cheaper rate, and pass the savings along to you!
What to look for in a free power plan:
- Schedule - Exactly what times of the week or day is the energy charge reduced to zero?
- Peak Hour cost - How much is the energy charge when it is not zero
- Off Peak Usage - What percentage of your total electricity do they assume you will consume in the off-peak hours?