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Nightsaver 2019: storage heaters, meter & cheap electricity

A picture of a clock, a sign saying off-peak hours, and piles of coins

The Nightsaver tariff is a tariff that can save money for customers who have storage heaters or prefer to run their household appliances (dishwashers, washer-dryers etc.) at night. While the Nightsaver tariff is a cheaper rate for nighttime use of electricity, the daytime unit rate on this tariff is slightly more expensive.

For those of us who either have electric storage heaters, unusual work hours, or are organised enough to plan ahead when it comes to using appliances, the Nightsaver tariff is one way of getting cheap electricity.


Storage Heaters

What is a storage heater? Simply put, a storage heater (also known as a heat bank) is an electric heater containing ceramic bricks which can be used to store up thermal energy at night when energy is cheaper (if you’re on the Nightsaver tariff) and release heat during the day when needed. There are four different models of storage heaters:

Type Properties
Manual Heaters No inbuilt thermostat so they will continue to heat a room even if an optimal temperature has been reached.
Automatic Storage Heaters Will turn off when the room temperature has reached a certain preset limit.
Automatic Combination Heaters Can also work as electric convection heaters, meaning if all the heat stored in the ceramic bricks has been used up and you feel like you need an extra boost of heat, you can switch to the electric convection function to generate more.
Quantum Convection Heaters The most expensive heaters but actually the cheapest to run, these heaters incorporate fans to more effectively circulate heat around rooms.

If you’d like more information on storage heaters or to see how they compare with other methods for heating your house, check out our article on the best way to heat your home.


Nightsaver Meter


A lightning bolt on a split daylight-nighttime background

What is a Nightsaver meter? In order to take advantage of cheaper nighttime electricity rates, you’ll need a way to record your daytime and nighttime consumption separately. This means you’ll need different meters, and that’s where a Nightsaver meter comes in.

In order to install a Nightsaver meter, simply contact your supplier and request one. Your supplier will then register your request for a Nightsaver meter with ESB Networks, who will arrange to call by your house and install one for free. The only caveat being, as we mention below, that you will pay a higher standing charge than if you just had a standard 24-hour meter.


Cheap Electricity

If you can shift more than a quarter (about 27%) of your electricity usage to nighttime, then you will definitely save money with a Nightsaver meter.

The reason you’ll need to shift at least 27% is that although Nightsaver meters are “free” to install, there is an additional fee added to your standing charge (around €45-€50). As such, you won’t see any benefit from cheaper night rate electricity unless you push for more than 27% electricity consumption at night.

Although it’s free to make the move to a Nightsaver meter, if you decide it’s not for you and decide to move back to a 24hr meter only, you will be charged a massive €200 fee.

However this increase in consumption should be relatively easy to achieve, even if you don’t have a storage heater or an immersion cylinder. Just run your dishwasher, washer-dryer, and any other energy guzzlers at night, and have a shower before Nightsaver time ends in the morning.

Energy companies have a surplus of electricity at night, so it’s in their best interest to make it easier and cheaper for customers to use it.

If we take a quick look at the unit rates for two suppliers, such as Electric Ireland and Energia, we can quickly see some possible savings when just 35% of our electricity usage is shifted to Nightsaver hours.

Provider 24hr Unit Price Day Unit Price (Nightsaver) Night Unit Price (Nightsaver) Annual Cost (24hr)* Annual Cost (Nightsaver)* Savings (minus Nightsaver standing charge)
Electric Ireland 18.98c 20.25c 10c €797.16 €699.82 €97.34 -
€57.51
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€39.83
Energia 21.43c 23.50c 11.26c €900 €807.07 €92.93 -
€43.29
------------
€49.64

*Unit price only, before 24hr meter standing rates, levies, VAT and provider discounts.

As we can see, a Nightsaver meter could definitely save you some cash, but you’ll need to be quite disciplined about shifting consumption of energy-guzzling appliances towards the cheaper-priced nighttime hours. Appliance timers, smart plugs and timer plugs could all help you do this, removing the hassle of yet another thing to remember.


Night Electricity Times Ireland


A stopwatch

Nightsaver times for 2019 have been set at 11 pm to 8 am during wintertime, and from 12 am to 9 am during the summer. The winter season starts in late October until late March while the summer season is set from late March until late October.

The reason for the shift in times is purely because of daylight savings’ time, meaning that it is actually the same hours that are cheaper year-round, but this way your meter doesn’t have to be reset every time the time changes. All things considered, nine hours is quite a reasonable amount of time to be able to benefit from a cheaper electricity rate.


Immersion heaters

Of course, it’s not just storage heaters which can be used to reap the benefit of overnight heat storage. It’s also the ideal time to switch on the immersion and wake up to a bountiful and cheaper supply of hot water.

Make sure to set the immersion timer for the amount of time needed before Nightsaver time ends, rather than on all night which would waste energy.


Savings


A piggybank with piles of notes and coins beside it.

We already know that a Nightsaver meter and tariff can save you money, as long as you’re careful about planning your electricity consumption so that you use more than a quarter of it during the tariff hours. But how can you plan ahead more accurately?

The average Irish household uses up around 11.8 kWh (kilowatts per hour) of energy per day, so you’ll need to use at least 3 kWh of your daily usage during Nightsaver hours. Realistically, how do 3 kWh translate to your normal usage?

Appliance kWh
Tumble dryer 4 kWh per load
Immersion cylinder 4 kWh (40 minute heating cycle)
Washing machine between 2.3 to 6.3 kWh per load
Electric blanket 1 kWh (average usage per night)
Power shower 2 kWh (10-minute shower)
Electric shower 1 kWh (10-minute shower)
Electric kettle 0.25 kWh (5 minutes)
Dishwasher A++ 1 kWh per short (approx. 1 hour) cycle

Verdict

If you can be organised and dedicated about reorganising your electricity consumption habits, then a Nightsaver meter could definitely save you money. Clearly, the more electricity usage you can shift to those cheaper night rate hours, the better.

However given the high cost of switching back to a 24hr meter, you would need to be really sure before requesting a Nightsaver meter. While every little helps, there are also several options you should look at before considering this, which could save you considerably more cash, such as: