Washing machine with the laundry at night.

Electricity time bands, explained

Get clued-in on the new off-peak electricity hours and learn how to save money on your electricity bill with minimal effort.

4 min read

With seemingly endless electricity price hikes and the introduction of variable rates, it’s more important than ever to educate yourself about the new system in Spain. Here, we’ll give you some tips to optimize your savings when it comes to your electricity bill. Let's go!

Understanding electricity time bands

Let’s start with a basic clarification of electricity bands. The variable rate system—formerly known as “night rates”—was brought about by the regulated electricity market. Under this system, the cost of a so-called “kilowatt hour” is determined by the time of day in which the electricity was used across a 24-hour period. Essentially, this price change is a result of the changes in levels of energy consumption and costs of energy production. 

The variable rate system sets three different prices for kilowatt hours for each of its three time bands: peak, standard, and off-peak. Peak hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., for example) are when the highest number of consumers are using the electricity grid—meaning that the cost of electricity increases during this time. Standard hours are weekdays from 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Here, you’ll pay a middle-range rate for your electricity use. 

During off-peak hours—from midnight to 8 a.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends and holidays, when electricity demand is much lower—the rates are at their absolute lowest. 

All this is to say that electricity costs you less to use outside of peak time bands, so it’s best to plan household activities that use lots of energy—such as laundry or using the dishwasher—during standard or off-peak hours. To learn more about your electricity bill, check out our guide here. 

Off-peak hours—the cheapest electricity time band 

The new variable-rate pricing system seeks to reduce spikes in electricity consumption and drive energy savings and efficiency, all while encouraging self-consumption and the development of renewable energy sources. This rate system applies to the over 10 million users across Spain who have agreed to the Voluntary Price for the Small Consumer (PVPC). 

The takeaways here are simple—use electricity during off-peak hours to maximize your energy savings. To save even more money on your electricity bill, check out our top tips below:

  • Use appliances during off-peak hours. According to the OCU (Spanish Organization of Consumers and Users), families that use a washing machine, dishwasher, electric cooker, or who take showers using an electric boiler during off-peak hours can save an average of up to €600 per year on their electricity bills compared to families that consume during peak times.
  • Use appliance timers and plan your meals in advance. We get it—no one loves frying bacon in the middle of the night or turning down their heating. But why not try turning on your appliance timers? Some heaters, for example, can be set to turn off at night and back on during the day, for example. When it comes to cooking, why not save money and time by meal-prepping over the weekend? 
  • Review your electricity contract. Cutting corners with your energy use is great, but not if you have the wrong type of contract. Check your conditions to make sure you’ve got a contract that suits your needs, whether on the regulated or unregulated energy market.  
  • Have two contracted power capacities. The more power your contract comes with, the more appliances you can use at the same time. This also means that your bill will be higher, as it’s divided between consumption (a variable cost) and power (a fixed cost that depends on the contracted kW). If you have two contracted powers, you can optimize your savings. If a contracted peak-hour or standard-hour kW costs you €30.67 per year, each off-peak will cost just €1.42 per year.

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