Time of Use (TOU) is a pricing structure for electricity that is being used in many areas including Ontario. Essentially, in a TOU pricing environment electricity costs vary depending on the time of day and the season. This pricing structure with prices ‘on-peak’ almost twice as expensive compared to ‘off-peak’ is designed to curtail energy use when it is most scarce by making it more expensive at those times.
There is a limited supply of electricity available, in Ontario when that limit is exceeded, the parties that control electricity in this province buy it from other areas, often this peak demand is met by toxic coal powered electricity generation in the Great Lake states of the US.
By pricing electricity higher in the residential sector (which collectively represents just under 20% of Canada’s energy demand) this will encourage homeowners to shift loads to times when power is not as scarce.
This policy change has met with some resistance from homeowners because many are not comfortable changing the way they operate their homes. Some of the most obvious changes are very simple and will save a lot more than just Time of Use related hydro increases.
First things first, a little automation goes a long way. Be sure to use a set-back thermostat so your home isn’t being heated or cooled too much when you’re not there. If you are home through the day, maybe use space heating to avoid having to heat the whole home. New dishwashers have a “delay” option so it will automatically come on later when hydro prices drop. Doing laundry after 7pm or on weekends is another simple way to avoid paying expensive electricity. If your family has a second fridge, put it on a timer so it doesn’t use expensive hydro.
You can see, by implementing simple energy saving ideas, transitioning and changing how you interact with your home can be simple, make a big difference on your bills and our collective energy security. By starting to make changes and thinking about how you use energy you’ll find many other simple things that save energy and lower your bills.
Remember, it takes efficient people in efficient buildings to optimize your energy dollar!
Commercial users of energy pay varying rates through the day as it is and many work diligently to eliminate energy especially during periods when it’s is most expensive. Technologies and solutions in the commercial and industrial sector have not trickled down to the residential sector since there had been no (dis)incentive to use energy more intensely at different times. With this logical and long over-due policy change, this will accelerate smart home technologies, create new technological innovation opportunities and reduces our collective dependence on dirty energy from the US as Ontario phases out all coal generation by 2014!
Change is not always easy, but with Pareto Energy it can be done. Taking energy reductions seriously in your home should lead to decreased bills, increased home comfort and higher home value - investments that lead to those outcomes definitely represent money well spent!
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Time of Use is an opportunity to take responsibility of your energy costs individually, doing so adds reliability and security to a stretched electrical grid for us all. Gone are the days of self-righteous waste!