About six months ago I was on hold with my local electric provider, waiting to talk to someone about my bill, when I heard a promotion for their time of day meters. It said I could save money by having one. Of course, I was interested.
The time of day meter is a meter that will allow the reader to see how much electricity your household used during peak hours, and how much for off peak hours. Then you are charged less for off peak hours, a penny less for each kilowatt hour. That may not seem like much, but it does end up saving you money, especially if you run your dishwasher, washer and dryer mostly at night and on weekends or you can adjust your life to do so. The first partial month of use made my bill $25.00 less than my average bill. My bill for last month is just $58.50, total. I run an upright freezer and two refrigerators in this house, among many other appliances and devices.
The first woman I spoke to in billing did not know anything about these meters, but she put me through to a department that did. I discussed it with that customer service representative, who told me someone needed to be home when the new meter was installed, and someone would let me know in advance what day that would be. I was notified, and had my new meter installed two days after my initial contact with my electric provider. Did I mention the best part? The meter and installation were both free.
You need to be home when the change is done, so you can unplug televisions or turn off the power switch on your power surge strip for televisions and computers. The nice woman who came to install my meter came to the front door, and less than three minutes later my time of day meter had been installed. It was easy, risk free, and it lowered my bill substantially.
This meter works with two dials: one for peak and one for off peak electric use. Off peak hours where I live are any time between 7 p.m. and 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, and then from 7 p.m. all the way through the weekend until Monday mornings at 11 a.m. I was doing most of my laundry and baking then, anyway. I run the dishwasher at night, too, so it seemed like it was a sure way to save money, and it was.
I had some blips along the way. The first couple of months, I ended up having to call my provider to have someone come back out who knew how to read this kind of meter. I had to ask for the department my provider calls “special ledger” to talk to someone who deals with this kind of meter. Yes, it was aggravating to have to do that, but if you can save 40 to 50 dollars a month on your bill, as I have, it does not take long to add up to significant savings. The aggravation, in other words, has been worth it. You can tell if your new meter has been read correctly because your bill will show two readings, one for peak, and one for off peak. If there is just one reading, you will need to call your provider and ask for it to be re-read.
Family benefits might be that you can convince your kids to do their reading homework before watching television or playing video games, when it is more energy efficient to do so. Wouldn’t this also benefit families by getting people outside doing activities together before 7 p.m? If not for all of you, it would be a great reason to send kids out play, mow the lawn, or take a walk while you are saving power. Saving a strain on the grid also means we are saving vital resources that might be lost if we don’t adjust our time of home electric consumption. In other words, you might be helping the planet, overall. Kids really want to save power and save the planet, so this could act as a catalyst for making your kids smarter and healthier.
Even if you are so well off that saving money does not interest you, using most of your electricity at off peak time does take pressure off the electric grid. Most have heard that the grid is old and tired. Blackouts and rolling brownouts are caused when too many people are using electricity at the same times, during peak use. If you can change your habits slightly, we can work together to keep power for everyone who really needs it. You can save money in the process, if you get a time of day meter. If you do your part, then we may be able to all sustain our way of living longer.