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Free nights and weekends electricity plans: Are they worth it?

By Jeff Cocking

When shopping for a Texas electricity plan, you’ll find you have several options. Some of the most common include fixed-rate plans, variable-rate plans, and prepaid or “pay as you go” plans. You may also discover energy providers advertising plans with free electricity on nights and weekends.

While having options is a significant benefit — it promotes competition, which can lead to lower electricity prices and better service — choosing the right energy provider and plan can sometimes feel overwhelming. Enter Power Wizard.

With a few key details from you, Power Wizard’s online smart tools handle the hard work for you. It’ll take you much less time to find a plan — and a rate — that makes sense for you.

Free nights and weekends plans can appear pretty attractive. However, there’s more to these plans than getting free electricity during specific hours. Here’s what you should know before signing up.

Let us find you the best plan in seconds and start saving.

What is a free nights and weekends electricity plan?

Free nights and weekends electricity plans are exactly as the name implies, plans that don’t charge you for the energy you use during specific hours at night and/or on weekends. They’re an offshoot of time-of-use plans that allow unlimited energy usage during the plan’s off-peak periods.

With a free nights and weekends plan, you need a type of electricity meter known as a smart meter. Like a standard meter, it tracks your home’s electricity usage. However, rather than requiring an employee from your power company to read it once a month, it transmits your home’s consumption in short intervals — typically every 15 minutes. That gives your energy provider a solid picture of your electricity usage by time of day.

What you should know about free weekend electricity plans

Before you sign up for free nights and weekends energy plan, you’ll want to ensure you understand it. Every energy provider’s plan is unique. For example, designated hours for free electricity may vary from one company to another. Reading the fine print will help you avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Here are a few other essential factors you’ll want to consider:

Retail electricity providers offer these plans to shift electric use to off-peak hours

Many people use the most electricity during similar hours. High demand can create a lot of stress on the electricity grid, which, in severe cases, could even lead to blackouts or brownouts.

Electricity providers offer free nights and weekends energy plans to encourage customers to shift a bulk of their power usage to off-peak hours. Reducing demand during peak electricity usage hours helps minimize stress on the grid.

The idea is similar to that of time-of-use plans. These plans have two pricing tiers — you pay a higher price per kilowatt-hour for usage during peak hours and a lower price for the electricity you use during off-peak times. However, free electricity hours tend to be a more effective incentive than a slightly lower cost.

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The transition to work from home has made this type of plan less useful

The whole point of free nights and weekends electricity plans is for customers to use most of their electricity during specific off-peak hours. They typically make the most sense for people who spend most of the peak electricity usage hours away from home. For a while, that usually meant these plans were ideal for people who had 9 to 5 office jobs or traveled a lot for work.

In early 2020, however, many jobs that kept people out of their homes during peak hours transitioned to work from home positions. Individuals who used hardly any electricity during regular daytime hours started using more. Even with many workers returning to their offices, some companies have kept their employees remote.

People working from home use more electricity during peak periods. While they may still be able to shift some of their usage to off-peak hours, they need light, their computers, and, during the summer, their air conditioners. Those needs mean free nights and weekends plans might not make as much financial sense.

Tracking your energy usage with a smart meter can help you determine if this plan is worth it

Smart meters allow electricity companies — and you — to track your electricity usage when you’re on free nights and weekends plan. Most come with an in-home display (IHD) unit that tracks your energy consumption in real-time.

In Texas, you can access your energy data via Smart Meter Texas. You can sign up for a secure online account, which will display your current consumption.

How to find an electric provider that offers these types of plans

Not all retail energy providers offer free nights and weekends electricity plans. And remember, each plan is different. Trying to pinpoint every potential option can be an arduous task. You want to find the right plan, but you don’t want to spend forever trying to do so.

That’s where having a partner like Power Wizard comes in handy. Not only does our algorithm search through hundreds of Texas electricity plans, but it also generates a list of the top ones based on where you live and your home’s historical consumption.

Power Wizard lets you compare the best free nights and weekends electricity plans with one another and with other plan types, making it easier to determine the best plan for your needs. From there, you can sign up yourself or become a VIP member and let us take care of it for you.

How much can a free nights electricity plan actually save you on electricity costs?

Here’s the thing about free nights and weekends electricity plans. Even though you aren’t paying anything for the electricity you use during specific periods, these plans don’t always mean you’ll save anything. And in most cases, they will cost you more than a standard fixed-rate plan.

Energy providers charge a much higher electricity rate for the energy you use during peak periods. The company applies that rate to any power your home consumes during those periods, whether you’re home or not.

To break even with this type of plan, you would have to shift at least half of your electricity usage to off-peak periods. Again, tracking your energy consumption habits with a smart meter can help determine if it’s right for you.

In short, if more than 50% of your energy usage occurs during typical peak hours and you can’t shift it to off-peak hours, you probably want to avoid free nights and weekends plans. A different plan type, such as a fixed-rate or prepaid electricity plan, may save you more money even though you have no free usage periods.

Let us find you the best plan in seconds and start saving.

Find a plan that fits your daily energy habits

Free nights and weekends electricity plans can be a great way to save money on your energy bills and help reduce demand on the electricity grid. However, they only make sense if most of your power usage occurs at night. Otherwise, “free” can end up being rather expensive.

Are you looking for the best Texas electricity plan for your needs? Visit Power Wizard to get started today!

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