Not long ago, the hourly breakdown was a concept closely linked to the regulated rate (PVPC)*. This is easy to explain: electricity is cheaper at so-called off-peak times and more expensive at peak times.
*In case you don't remember, here we explain the difference between the open market and the regulated market. To sum up, on the regulated market there is just one rate (PVPC), which can be chosen with or without hourly breakdown. On the open market, there is a wide range of rates.
With the widespread installation of smart meters, it is now possible to see consumption details virtually in real time. To know how many kWh are used in each home, each hour of each day. As a result, the hourly discrimination concept was expanded to all types of rates.
What was originally known as hourly breakdown, with a strict range of inexpensive (off-peak) hours and expensive (peak) ones, is now much more flexible.
When is electricity cheapest?
You are familiar with airfares and you know they are less expensive if you fly in a low season than when you need to travel in August or at Christmas. But how does this work with electricity? When is a good time to use more electricity?
The answer to this question depends on the rate you have chosen. Let’s take a look: you may be in the open market or the regulated market.
If you are in the regulated market
Your rate is called PVPC and the price per KWh varies constantly. There's no way of knowing what price you’ll pay per kWh next week but with this tool you can check the price you’ll pay tomorrow and the one you have paid over the past few days and weeks.
Under the PVPC rate, you can choose whether or not you prefer the hourly breakdown. The prices will still fluctuate, but with the hourly breakdown certain times will always be cheaper (off-peak times: from 10:00 pm to 12:00 noon in winter; from 11:00 pm to 1:00 pm in summer) and certain times will be more expensive (peak times: from 12:00 noon to 10:00 pm in winter; from 1:00 pm to 11:00 pm in summer).
If you are in the open market
There are all kinds of rates in the open market. Some, such as the One Luz rate, cost the same all hours of the day. Others, such as One Luz Nocturna, follow the same logic as those with time restrictions, with cheap hours (in this case at night and in the morning) and peak hours (the rest of the day).
But the biggest innovation is in rates that let you choose yourself. The Tarifa Tempo Happy rate, for example, offers the same price all hours of the day but lets you choose certain Happy hours in which the electricity you use will be free. You can choose 2 hours in a row per day or 1 entire day per week in which you pay 0 euros for each kWh or you can even leave it all to us and decide that the 50 hours of the month when you consume the most will be the ones you get free.
Is hourly discrimination right for you?
Rates with variable prices depending on the time of day represent an excellent alternative to rates with a single price round the clock. However, to take advantage of the benefits, it is important to concentrate peaks in use during the cheaper hours.
Everyone is unique, and many people find it hard to adapt to the strict timetable required in the hourly breakdown. That’s why it is good news that “a la carte” rates now exist, where you decide which times of day are more economical.
To fully benefit from these rates, you need to perform certain activities at certain times. This would be the case for lifestyles in which the washing machine, dishwasher, electric oven, and so on are usually run at a certain time or on a certain day (for example: every day after work or Sundays all day long).
However, this is not the best option for everyone. Someone is always bound to prefer a stable price, regardless of the time or day of the week. You are free to choose, and you can change your rate (and economical hours) whenever you want.