It pays to evaluate the various programs that your electric service provider offers. When I did so, I learned that my service provider, Xcel Energy has a daily savings program called “Time of Day” for customers living in Minnesota, North Dakota or South Dakota.
This savings program is tailored to benefit those customers who use at least 650 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month of electricity, and are able to use 65% or more of their electricity at night or on the weekends. The greatest benefit is seen by customers who use electric heat or electric water heating.
My townhome has both underfloor electric radiant heating and a gas furnace. I chose to have a Time of Day meter installed when I purchased my home about 3 years ago as my first heating bill when I used electric heat exclusively was over $400.00, which exceeded my budget allocation.
I could have just discontinued using the electric radiant heating and therefore save money by heating solely through the use of my gas furnace, as natural gas rates are much cheaper. However, the underfloor radiant heating made the hard-surface floors and even the carpeted areas of my home so much more comfortable during the cold weather that I wanted to find a money-saving solution and continue to enjoy the benefits of the radiant heat.
After learning about Xcel Energy’s Time of Day service program, I opted to have the meter for my townhome changed to take advantage of this option. Along with having the meter changed, I paid an electrician to replace the separate nonprogrammable thermostats for the gas and electric heating systems with programmable thermostats. This was optional on my part.
Since making the change to a Time of Day meter, I have experienced substantial year-round savings for my combined electric and gas expenses and am able to use electric radiant heating throughout the winter months.
The Xcel Energy Time of Day program is structured as follows:
1) The off-peak period covers 108 hours per week, or 65% of the total week. You may choose your off-peak periods for Monday through Friday from the time periods available. The 12-hour on-peak start time begins at 9 a.m. I chose to have my personal off-peak hours be from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. and my new meter was set for that time period accordingly.
2) Weekends and most holidays are always off-peak, 24 hours a day. Holidays are recognized on the nationally designated day. They are New Years Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
3) No electrician is required. Xcel Energy removes your existing meter and replaces it with a Time of Day meter that records the time and amount of electricity used. I was not charged for changing my meter.
4) There is a monthly service charge in addition to the kilowatt hour charge. I am billed $12.50 per month as I have underground service with space heating.
5) If you use your selected appliances during peak times while on the Time of Day plan, you pay a rate that is higher than standard residential rates.
6) You cannot participate in Saver’s Switch while on Time of Day.
7) You can participate in a three-month trial to see if the Time of Day program helps you lower your electricity bill. If you are not satisfied, Xcel Energy will recalculate your bill at the standard rate. They will charge $20 to remove the off-peak meter if you decide not to continue on the Time of Day service after the trial period.
I needed to make some lifestyle changes in order to make this program a money saver, including the following:
1) The rate differential between on-peak and off-peak hours is very substantial, particularly during the summer. Therefore, I quickly became conscious of the higher-rate hours Monday through Friday, and adjusted my use of appliances, heating and air conditioning accordingly.
2) I utilize the programmable thermostats to assure that neither electric heating nor air conditioning takes place during on-peak hours unless I choose to have that happen. Fortunately, my townhome maintains a comfortable temperature fairly easily, especially since I adjust window coverings year-round to either moderate or take advantage of sunlight.
3) In the winter, I have the electric heat set to come on about 5:00 a.m., and to switch off at 65 degrees or at 9:00 a.m., whichever comes first. The temperature continues to rise in the house during the morning because of the radiant heat, so I set my thermostat at 65 degrees, and the temperature in my house goes up to about 68 degrees after the electric pump shuts off. If I need more heat to be comfortable, I run the gas furnace or my gas fireplace for a short time which keeps me comfortable during the coldest of days.
4) In the summer, I don’t preprogram a time for the air conditioner since outside temperatures vary so much, but instead choose to manually set the thermostat early in the morning to cool the house down to between 68 and 70 degrees before 9:00 a.m.; my home then remains very comfortable all day without running the air conditioner during on-peak hours. If it has gotten up to 78 degrees in the house by 9:00 p.m., I then run the air conditioner for awhile during the off-peak evening hours to get the temperature back down to 72 degrees.
5) Additional ways that I save money are by doing the following on weekends or weekdays during off-peak hours: laundry, running the dishwasher, vacuuming, or using my whirlpool tub or any appliance that runs for an extended period of time and therefore requires more electricity. This has been very easy to accomplish.
6) I don’t concern myself over normal use of electricity during on-peak hours for my cooktop, oven, coffee maker, toaster, TV, computer, or other small appliances; I use these conveniences whenever I need them.
If you are interested in learning more about the Xcel Energy Time of Day program, you can visit their website at http://www.xcelenergy.com or call 1-800-895-4999 (available 24-hours every day).
For those who don’t qualify for the Xcel Energy Time of Day program, it may pay to check with your electric service provider to see if a comparable program is available to help you save money on your electric bill.