Not all electricity consumption is the same – at least according to your electricity company. This
is why, some utility providers offer their customers what are called “time of use rates.” Time of
use rates are essentially a rate structure where electricity costs more or less depending on the
time of day it is being used.
When you stop to think about it, this makes sense intuitively. Most people leave their homes
for work and school during the day. Electricity demand is at a daily low during these times –
usually around the times that most people are at work and, of course, during the middle of the
night. Because of this, the cost of generating electricity incurred by your utility provider is also
at a daily low. Conversely, during the late afternoon or early evening, electricity usage tends
rise and so too do the costs associated with its generation. People come home and, especially
during the Summer, the first thing they tend to do is switch on the AC. This is a huge electricity
draw for any household and when you have a whole community of people who work 9-5 jobs,
this leads to a massive spike in overall demand from the grid around this time. Because demand
increases so dramatically, the price of the electricity also increases. The structure of these plans
tends to vary depending on the season and even day to day, depending on whether a given day
is a weekday, weekend, or a holiday.
If you have a time of use plan with your utility provider, this means you will pay more during
peak hours and less during low demand hours for electricity. This can be contrasted with a flat
rate plan for those who don’t want to have to worry about when they use electricity or who
lack the flexibility in their home power setup to take advantage of time of use rates.
Fortunately for solar homes, time of use rates are much easier to ‘hack’ in order to ensure that,
in addition to the savings you enjoy from generating a portion of your own power, you are
drawing power from the grid only during the times that it is cheapest.
Having a solar array means that during the hours that the sun shines, your home can draw
directly from that celestial electricity generator in the sky. So, during the Summer afternoons
when you’re working from home and the kids are out of school, asking to turn on the AC, you
need not worry about getting charged extra because of a projected spike in demand from the
grid. Your solar array will do all the heavy lifting and shoulder the burden of cooling your home.
The same goes for the Winter when the home office gets chilly and you need a little help from
your electric heater to warm your toes under your desk. Even during the evenings, while the
sun still shines, the solar array can work to help offset the cost to the grid of your home energy
consumption as your household returns from their daily errands and work.
Adding storage to your solar array can help you take additional advantage of potential savings
in some obvious ways. A standard solar array, sans storage, will directly power your home using
the power that it draws from the sun in any given moment. This means, you can achieve
maximum solar power output around noon on a sunny day – which is great! However, installing
solar battery storage can add a new dimension of flexibility and utility to your renewable home

energy setup. With solar storage, your solar array can save up the energy that it generates
throughout the day. So, during those peak hours of sunshine, while everyone is at work or
school and your household demand on the grid is at a daily low, your system can
simultaneously power your home and send excess energy to your battery storage. The excess
energy generated by your solar array that is not used to power your home during the day will
wait for you in its stored form. When you come home (maybe around the same time as the rest
of your community is coming home) time of use rates will peak! But you need not worry about
that. You can power your home using the energy that your solar array has been ferreting away
all day. During peak usage hours, while grid powered homes are paying the daily maximum for
their energy, solar + storage households can enjoy the free energy that their array spent the
whole day collecting for them. (This also applies during emergency situations such as grid
blackouts, but that’s another story.)
With this knowledge, savvy homeowners can take advantage of time of use rates to save costs
on energy. For example, running your washing machine at 9pm instead of 6pm could save you
around $12 annually. This doesn’t sound like much, but when you account for other appliances
in your home such as heaters, dishwashers, and dryers it can add up. Your home is a long term
investment – the longest term investment most people will make for their whole lives! Georgia
homeowners pay around $165 per month on average for their electricity. This is lower than the
national average, but even with that being the case, homeowners in Georgia will spend over
$65,000 on electricity over the course of the next 25 years (and this is assuming that rate stays
steady and doesn’t go up as is much more likely). Given the long term relationship most people
will have with their home, it is a good idea to pursue savings, however seemingly marginal they
may be, wherever possible. Adding solar panels plus battery storage to your home along with a
time of use rate plan is a great way to game the system and maximize your home energy

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