Time of Use Rates: How to Avoid a Surprise Bill

How to Avoid Time of Use Rates

Are time-of-use (TOU) charges driving up your electric bills? You’re not alone! Homeowners across Colorado are feeling the strain of TOU charges, which increase your electricity rates during peak demand periods. 


Shifting your electricity consumption to off-peak hours can help you keep your electric bills low with TOU charges, but this isn’t always a convenient option. Residential solar panels combined with battery storage, on the other hand, allow you to use electricity whenever you want without worrying about TOU charges. 


Keep reading to learn more about time-of-use charges and how to avoid them!

How Do Time-of-Use Rates Work?

Traditional electricity billing is simple: you pay for what you use. But TOU rates add another layer by changing your rate based on when you use electricity. 

Most TOU plans divide the day into off-peak, mid-peak, and on-peak hours. The exact timeframes vary by utility, but these are the most common. 


  • Off-peak hours are typically late at night and early in the morning. This is the cheapest time to use electricity. 
  • Mid-peak hours are typically in the early afternoon.
  • On-peak hours are typically in the late afternoon and early evening. For most people, this is the most convenient time to use electricity but it’s also the most expensive.

Why Do Time-of-Use Charges Exist?​

When there’s too much strain on the electric grid, the results can be serious—broken equipment; blackouts that may lead to brownouts and eventually total power loss for some homes or businesses (or even entire neighborhoods); wildfire as utility companies struggle with keeping up during an emergency situation where everyone’s needs are at maximum capacity. Time-of-use rate plans incentivize homeowners to use electricity during off-peak hours, minimizing strain on the electric grid and reducing these risks.

Tips to Avoid Time-of-Use Charges​

Shift Electricity Consumption to Off-Peak Hours

The most obvious way to reduce TOU charges is to shift as much electricity usage as you can to off-peak hours. Some examples include: 


  • Do laundry before bedtime or first thing in the morning
  • Adjust thermostat settings to use less heat/AC during on-peak hours
  • Run the dishwasher overnight 
  • Turn off lights that aren’t needed and use natural light whenever possible
  • Charge your EV overnight 
  • Shifting most of your electricity consumption to off-peak hours can help you avoid TOU charges, but for many homeowners, power shifting isn’t a convenient solution. If you don’t want to have to worry about the best time to use electricity, solar panels and battery storage are a better option. 

Install Rooftop Solar & Battery Storage

Switching to solar power is the best option if you want to avoid TOU charges altogether. With a solar panel and battery system, you can produce your own electricity and power your house without the electric grid while the sun is shining. During peak solar generation times, when the sun is high in the sky, you can use the excess energy you produce to charge your solar batteries. In the evening, when on-peak hours begin, you can use stored solar energy to power your home, avoiding TOU charges.

Colorado Solar Panel & Battery Installation

Ready to take control of your own electricity generation and rein in high TOU bills? Solar Power Pros can help you make the switch to solar power. We install top-tier solar panels and battery systems tailored to your energy needs. With a solar installation from Solar Power Pros, you’ll avoid TOU charges, save money on your electricity bills, and reduce your reliance on the electric grid, all while doing your part for the environment. We offer excellent financing options and can help you take advantage of solar incentives, like the 30% federal solar tax credit.


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