Hourly Electricity Rates: learn about time discrimination

What influences the cost of the energy you consume? Here, we will tell you in detail what hourly electricity rates are and how time discrimination works.

You have probably wondered at times what factors influence the price you pay for your energy. What does it depend on? What should you take into account?

If you visit our catalogue of electricity tariffs you will see that you have many types of tariffs to choose from. You can see Única by Endesa, more than a flat rate with which you will always pay the same amount. You will also find others that make consumption cheaper at certain times or on certain days.

 

What is time discrimination?

Time discrimination is simply a distinction between invoicing bands for your hours of electricity consumption, in which there price differentiation depending on the time.

In other words, the price depends on the time the energy is consumed. These three time bands are called "peak, standard and off-peak".

Image: Endesa's Peak and Off-Peak schedule. This information is presented below in text.

Peak, Standard and Off-Peak timetable

Timetable

Monday to Friday excluding public holidays Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 

Peak

10am to 2pm and 6pm to 10pm

Standard 8am to 10am, 2pm to 6pm and 10pm to 12 midnight
Off-peak 12 midnight to 8am 24 hours a day
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How can you take advantage of the times when energy costs less in order to consolidate your consumption and therefore save?

In this post we answer all those questions and, in addition, we explain time discrimination and how hourly electricity rates can increase your energy efficiency. 

 

How are energy prices set?

In Spain there is a wholesale energy market, the so-called pool. Every day the companies that generate energy (the owners of the power plants) use this market to sell energy to the retailers.   

The independent electricity market operator (OMIE, in Spanish)
is responsible for regulating the market to match the most expensive and the cheapest bids and the last price bid. Thanks to this process, the price of a kWh is set for each hour of the day. This is the price at which the generating companies sell the power to the retailers. 

This price is only valid for the specific time that has been set and it is what is called the marginal price. The entire pricing process takes place a day in advance; the prices for the electricity purchased tomorrow are set today.

Why do prices vary? These are some of the factors that influence the price per kWh.

  • The bid price:  is the price for which the generating companies offer energy in the wholesale market. If the OMIE use these offers as a reference, these prices have a direct effect on the final price per kWh.
  • The purchase price: is the price for which the retailers acquire the energy. This is what it costs your electric company for every kWh it offers you. 
  • Consumer demand:  the higher the demand, the more the price of energy rises. For this reason, the price of electricity tends to rise the most in the coldest and hottest months of the year, which is when most heating and air conditioning are used. The retailers are forced to buy more kWh to satisfy all the demand from their customers. Therefore, when bidding on the price per kWh, the retailers take the forecast demand into account.
  • The cost of energy production: there are cheaper energies, such as nuclear and hydroelectric power, and more expensive ones, such as thermal power and gas, which hugely depend on fluctuations in the price of raw materials. The cost of renewable energies, such as wind or solar thermal, is also highly variable and we will see why below.
  • Meteorology: meteorological phenomena determine the amount of electricity that is produced. When there is no wind, wind turbines do not produce any electricity. When there is no sun, solar panels do not produce any electricity. When there is a drought, hydroelectric plants do not produce any electricity. With less energy being produced, there is less kWh on the wholesale market... and this shortage drives up prices.

 

What about the final price that we pay as consumers?

The final price that we pay on our bills depends on the retailer. However, it must be taken into account that your bill doesn't just include what it cost the retailer to buy the energy. Fees and taxes are also included, in addition to the tolls charged by distribution companies for getting energy from the generation plants to your home.

The price you pay on your bill also includes the rental of the meters and, finally, the profit that the retailer makes in exchange for managing your bills and contracts, providing customer service and finding a tariff that suits your consumption profile.

 

Why does the price that we consumers pay vary?

In Spain, there are two major markets for energy: 

 

Regulated market:

These tariffs are called Voluntary Price for the Small Consumer or PVPC, also known as hourly electricity tariffs, formerly known as Last Resort Tariff.

The PVPC model is the hourly electricity tariff. In this case, you will have a different price per kWh for each hour of the day, varying from day to day. This can only be requested if the contracted power is less than 15kW. The price is set by the wholesale market and you can check it from 8pm onwards on the previous day on the Red Eléctrica de España website.

Off-peak hours are the ones when electricity is cheaper. However, you have little advance warning of the price of electricity and it can vary, disrupting your plans and upsetting your organisation and your savings plan. In other words, you cannot be sure how much you will end up paying on your bill at the end of the month.

 

Free market:

The free market has 13 million users in Spain. In this case, the price is set by the retailer and users know exactly what they are going to pay for their electricity every minute of the day.

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How can I get the most out of the free market and the regulated market?

Our everyday lives make it difficult to adapt to the requirements of the regulated market. We cannot always cram our consumption into off-peak hours, as lifestyles differ from one home to another.

The most efficient way would be to have a rate that suits how your family consumes electricity.

We are talking about Hourly Electricity Rates. With these rates, electricity has a different cost according to the time at which it is consumed. However, you will know in advance what you are going to pay per kWh. What are the advantages?

  • Control your spending at all times.
  • Organise your life and consolidate your consumption in the hours or days when you will pay less.
  • Be more efficient with your consumption.

At Endesa we have the Tempo Tariffs, which are designed to fit any type of consumption and lifestyle.

 

Tempo Happy 2Hours Tariff

With this rate, you can enjoy two consecutive hours, the ones that you choose, during which you will not pay anything for the electricity you consume. If you succeed in organising your home to consolidate your electricity consumption, you will save significantly on your bill.

For example, use those two hours to run the washing machine and dishwasher and cook. Or to turn on your air conditioning or electric heating and get your house to the right temperature.

Tempo Happy 50Hours Tariff

This is a particularly versatile rate as the 50 hours in which you consume the most each month are free of charge. If you cannot manage to organise your daily routine, this rate is designed to help you save on your bill.

To give you an idea, you would have at least one full hour a day in which your electricity consumption would be free. And you would have another 20 hours to distribute throughout the month.

Tempo Happy Day Tariff

You can choose which day of the week your energy consumption will be free of charge. For example, if you have a second home that you only use on weekends, you can choose to have your free electricity on the day on which you use the most power, and save on your bill.

Tarifa One Luz 3 Periodos

The night electricity tariff One Luz 3 Time Bands guarantees that the electricity you consume will be cheaper if you use it during the standard time band and even cheaper if you concentrate consumption in the off-peak time band.

Infographic Tempo Verde Supervalle Tariff Schedule.

If you would like your consumption habits in your daily life to help you save on the electricity bill, choose the One Luz 3 Time Bands tariff, which is designed for those who consume most of their electricity at night, as well as in the morning and throughout the day at weekends.

 

Peak, Standard and Off-Peak timetable

These three time bands are called "peak, standard and off-peak".

Timetable

Monday to Friday excluding public holidays Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 
Off-peak 12 midnight to 8am 24 hours a day
Standard 8am to 10am, 2pm to 6pm and 10pm to 12 midnight
Peak 10am to 2pm and 6pm to 10pm
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