As you’re shopping for an electricity plan, you’ll come across plans that advertise phrases like “free nights and weekends” or “free nights and solar days.” This may sound too good to be true, but they’re absolutely legitimate.
Many electricity providers offer periods of free electricity as an effort to shift some of the electricity load to lower usage, off-peak times. Also, the cost of electricity during these off-peak hours is much less expensive than during peak hours. Because electricity is a commodity that can’t currently be stored, it’s better for everyone when electricity demand is more equalized.
But, what you really want to know as an electricity consumer is, are free nights and weekends worth it?
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How Do Free Electricity Plans Work?
Fee electricity plans are also known as Time of Use plans. They use the smart meter at your house to get a reading of your usage for every 15 minute increment. That lets them price your power at different rates at different times.
These type of plans have higher energy rates during one period of time, in exchange for giving you free electricity at certain times. The offset is that you get no-cost electricity during specific times.
Is a Free Electricity Plan for You?
Maybe. We don’t know you. heck, we just met! But these plans are fantastic if you are able to shift your electricity usage to the free period.
Here’s how to determine if a free electricity plan is for you:
- Find a plan that matches your electricity usage. Not home during the week? Go with free weekends. Get home after 7pm every night (or willing to moderate your HVAC when you first get home)? Maybe free nights is for you.
- Shift your electricity usage to the free period.Whatever plan you pick, make sure to shift your electricity usage — vacuuming, dish washing, laundry — to that free period to get the best bang for your buck.
For example, if you are someone who regularly gets home after 7pm free nights electricity could work for you. Or you travel during the week and are only home on weekends. Free weekends electricity could work for you.
If you are a stay-at-home mom that home schools, free nights and/or free weekends plans are NOT for you — you will be using electricity all day, every day.
Knowledge of your electricity usage is critical. For a time of use plan to work on your behalf, you’ll need to ensure that you are really taking advantage of that free electricity by adjusting your usage accordingly. Otherwise, you could end up paying more for your electricity than ever before. Thankfully, most REPs send you weekly reports showing how much you are using and when.
How to Take Advantage of Free Electricity
Providers offering time of use plans estimate a percentage of electricity usage during the free period when they calculate their energy rates.
For a ‘free weekend’ plan this estimate can be up to 35%. Would you use at least this much energy during the designated free period? You need to pay careful attention to the plan details to know how much the provider thinks you’ll use during the free period.
Know that the plans are based on what “most consumers” use during a specific time period. For example, if the Electricity Facts Label says that the average price assumes that you use 30% of your usage during the free time period, that’s what most consumers use. You mostly benefit from free electricity plans if you are able to shift your usage outside of average.
So the best way to take advantage of free electricity is to
- Understand what drives your electricity usage. For most Texas consumers, heating and cooling your home accounts for 50% of your electricity usage. Other big users are your lighting and electronics, plus large appliances.
- Know what time of day and day of week you use electricity. You can find this out by accessing your smart meter data on the Texas Smart Meter portal.
- Shift your electricity usage as needed to make the most of your free electricity plan.
What’s the Catch with ‘Free Nights and Weekends’ Electricity Plans?
These plans aren’t meant to be misleading. But at the same time, there are details that you’ll want to be knowledgeable about before signing up.
Here are a few things to pay close attention to:
- Length of contract. Electricity plans offering free nights and weekends often require a long-term contract. It’s not unusual to for a time of use contract length to be 24 months. A long-term contract means that you’re going to be locked in at whatever rate you agree to for a very long time, even if your usage pattern changes.
- Cancellation Fees. Make sure you know what it’ll cost to cancel it. You can find yourself locked into a contract that’s super expensive to cancel if it isn’t saving you money like you had hoped. A number of companies offer satisfaction guarantees that let you change to a different plan within the first 60 days if you decide free electricity isn’t a fit.
- Energy charge. The cost of electricity when you’re not in the designated free period is really expensive. If you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that enough of your electricity usage happens during the free period, then you may be able to save money. It definitely pays to compare free nights and weekend plans.
Our Recommendations for Free Electricity Plans
There are a lot of different Free Electricity plans you can pick from. Here are our favorites that are worth it, and why:
- Pulse Power Free Energy Nights (Top recommendation): Pulse Power offers the best Free Nights (or free weekends) electricity plan on the market. It’s reasonably priced, and substantially less than most other free electricity plans on the market. If you’re going to pick one, this is the best free nights plan in Texas.
- Champion Energy Free Weekends: Champion Energy’s free weekends plan is the best deal on the market. It’s priced comparably to their regular fixed rate plans, and less than other free electricity plans on the market. This is the best free weekends electricity plan in Texas. Here’s our review of Champion Energy Free Weekends.
- Direct Energy Twelve Hour Power: Direct Energy’s plan is priced a little higher, but Direct Energy’s credit policy makes this a winner. Their deposit will never be more than $150, and you can opt for their Deposit alternative program and pay a $75 non-refundable fee to waive any deposit. Here’s our Direct Energy Twelve Hour Power review.
Looking for free electricity with no deposit? These plans all require a deposit, however both Direct Energy and Champion Energy have a deposit alternative program that lets you get started with a $75-$120 fee. And Pulse Power uses an alternative credit check that you can pass if you pay your utility bills on time. Any of these options give you a rate that’s 30-50% less per kWh than a prepaid no deposit free nights plan!
Another plan to consider is the Reliant Energy Truly Free Nights plan. This plan gives both electricity and delivery at no charge at night. However keep in mind that this makes your day time rate much higher.
Shop Free Electricity Plans
At ElectricityPlans, we dig into the details of these plans and highlight the information you need to know to make an informed decision. At ElectricityPlans.com, you can shop and compare several time of use electricity plans offered by reputable retail electricity providers serving your area.
In the Plan Features section in search, simply select ‘Free Electricity – Certain Times‘ to see all available time of use plans in your area.
Then review Plan Summary to identify what time of day the free power is.
Start shopping free electricity plans now. All you need is your zip code to get started.
Compare Free Nights & Weekends Plans
Related Articles on Free Electricity Plans
Want to learn more about free electricity? Jump to our main article, Compare Plans with Free Electricity. On that page, you will find free electricity rates and plans.