San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) offers their residential customers several electricity pricing plans to choose from, including tiered and time-of-use (TOU) options. While tiered plans have fixed rates regardless of time of day, TOU plans vary prices based on periods of high and low electricity demand. By taking advantage of lower “off-peak” hour rates, TOU customers can potentially save up to 50% on their monthly electricity bills.
As an energy consultant and the founder of CubEnergySaver, I’ve helped thousands of SDG&E customers maximize savings on their utility costs. Understanding how to utilize off-peak hours is crucial for optimizing TOU plans. In this in-depth guide, I’ll explain what off-peak hours are, provide the specific SDG&E off-peak windows, and share my best tips and strategies for saving money during these discounted periods.
What are Off-Peak Hours?
Utility companies like SDG&E generate more electricity than is actively being used during certain windows, resulting in surplus energy. To incentivize higher grid utilization, they offer reduced “off-peak” rates when demand is lower. Specifically, off-peak hours occur:
- Between midnight-6am on weekdays when residential usage dips as people sleep
- 10am-3pm (March-October) or 2pm (Nov-Feb) on weekdays when solar generation peaks
- Various weekends/holiday periods when usage is generally lower
During off-peak windows, SDG&E has plentiful supply available but reduced customer needs. Lower prices motivate shifting flexible loads like laundry or dish washing to these times, avoiding wasted excess generation.
SDG&E Off-Peak Rate Periods
The utility outlines designated off-peak windows within their TOU tariff schedules. Here are the specific hours subject to discounted pricing:
- 10am-3pm (March-October), 10am-2pm (November-February)
Weekends & Holidays:
Holidays include New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Prices are about half the standard on-peak rates, representing potential bill reductions of 25-50% for shifting flexible loads.
Tips for Maximizing Off-Peak Savings
By thoughtfully using high energy appliances and adjusting daily habits, significant cost reductions are achievable. Here are my top recommendations developed through years of experience:
Shift Laundry & Dishwasher Cycles
Appliance loads like washers/dryers and dishwashers can represent over 10% of monthly bills. Running full cycles during off-peak hours saves the most.
Pre-Cool Home Before Peak Period
Pre-cooling with the AC before 4pm leverages cheaper power to cool passively through evening. Manual thermostat adjustment also saves versus auto features.
Delay Hot Water Heating
Gas water heaters use electricity to ignite pilot lights. Starting morning/evening showers 30 minutes into off-peak periods avoids on-peak electric charges.
Cook Meals During Daytime
Utilizing daylight hours for meal prep versus relying on evening appliance/oven use keeps costs lower.
Leverage Natural Light
Open curtains during daytime to light interior naturally and reduce AC/lighting loads as the sun sets earlier.
Unplug Idle Electronics
Even switched-off devices like TVs/computers consume phantom loads. Unplugging completely between uses removes this small continuous usage.
By simply shifting several daily patterns, average TOU customers can potentially cut $30-80 per month from power bills through dedicated off-peak participation. Optimizing major home systems delivers outsized savings suitable for any budget.
As an expert in SDG&E rates and programs, CubEnergySaver customers often see annual electricity cost reductions of 15-30% with our personalized guidance. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation and customized savings strategy for your home. Understanding off-peak hours is a foundational first step towards maximizing TOU discounts year-round.