All homes need an electricity supply, and this supply must be contracted. But not everyone has the same consumption habits, and needs can vary depending on diverse factors, which should be considered when choosing the electricity rate we want to contract.
As explained by Energy Rights Specialist Coordinator, Raquel Rodríguez, the first thing you should evaluate is how much electrical potency you need. This is directly related to the power of the different electrical appliances in the home and whether we use them simultaneously, rather than the size of the flat. In other words, consumption does not depend as much on whether you have a small or large home, but on the number of household appliances that are used there simultaneously.
Secondly, the option of contracting a rate with hourly discrimination can be assessed. “This rate is interesting because it offers two different prices for two defined time periods,” Rodríguez explains.
Finally, it must be taken into account that electricity can be contracted from free market or regulated providers. In the case of the latter, subsidised rates may be available.
Contracting the electrical power we need
One of the objectives in choosing which electricity rate we contract is to avoid overpaying. Therefore, “we must be sure that the electricity bill is adjusted to the needs of our home,” explains Rodríguez.
In this regard, we must ensure that we contract the electrical power we need for electrical appliances that are used at home, since sometimes the power contracted is higher than what is actually needed. This implies an unnecessary extra cost.
Therefore, the more electrical devices you want to use at the same time, the more electrical power you need to cover the demand. It must be taken into account that, of the different concepts included in the electricity bill, power implies a considerable cost. The more power is needed, the higher the final amount of the bill will be.
Therefore, it is advisable to optimise the use of existing electrical devices to use them only when necessary and in a sensible way. If the simultaneous use of various electrical appliances is avoided, less electrical power can be contracted, because there will be lower demand for electricity.
The maximum potency that can be simultaneously consumed
All electrical equipment has an assigned electrical power (small or large) that is expressed in Watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). If we use several devices simultaneously, the powers of each one add up, until we reach a point where we cannot use any more electricity because this sum has reached the contracted electrical power. This is the maximum power that can be consumed in any given moment.
When the maximum power is exceeded, new digital meters will disconnect the service and the home will no longer have electricity.
The most economical and efficient way to use electrical energy is to contract low power, as this will optimise the use of appliances and reduce the fixed cost of the electrical bill.
In order to reduce the contracted power, the simultaneous use of electrical appliances with high potencies must be avoided. For example, if 2.3kW of power are contracted, we can use home lighting, the fridge, small appliances (TV, Wi-Fi …), and one large appliance (oven, hot washing machine, electric heater, hair dryer, electric radiator …).
If you have contracted higher power, such as 3.45kW, you can use up to two or three large appliances at the same time.
When is very high power is needed?
For most households, between 3.45 or 4.5 kW of power is sufficient. If a household decides to contract more electrical power than this, it is because there are more electrical appliances that need to operate at the same time.
This may be the case in homes that have all electrical appliances and no gas installation; in flats that have an elevator or heated pool; and in homes with air conditioning ducts. In these cases, you can contract power that exceeds 10 kW, although this is only available in the free market.
The hourly discriminatory rate
Another effective way to find rates that fit our energy use is to contract the hourly discriminatory rate. The benefit of contracting this rate is greatest when the use of electrical appliances increases during the hours of low demand, and is reduced during peak times when the price is higher.
With an hourly discriminatory rate, during the low period, the price of energy presents a 42% discount with respect to the regulated price, and during the peak period, the price increases by 21%. “If you use your most powerful electrical appliances, such as the washing machine or the iron, during the hours of the low period, you will be using energy in the hours when the price is lower, and by doing so you can obtain savings on your bill of up to 30% “, explains Rodríguez.
Free or regulated market
The Energy Rights Specialist Coordinator notes that in the case of eligibility for subsidised rates, the electricity supply should be contracted with a regulated market provider for the social bonus rate, with discounts between 25 and 40% of the total bill.
If, on the other hand, the supply is contracted with a free market provider, we must know how to identify any extra maintenance services that are added to the bill. Sometimes, people do not know that they have contracted maintenance services with their bill and thus they don’t use them – and this represents an unnecessary expense.
Combined rates for different supplies
Free market providers are the only ones that have bills that are combined with other supplies, and that may also include maintenance services. They offer different rates and special products so that users can choose the one they think is most adequate. In this sense, you can find special rates that can offer discounts for the hours when electrical appliances are most used.
But even so, as the energy rights expert warns, the most economical rate over long periods of time may be the one offered by the regulated market providers (PVPC for electricity and TUR for gas), and these rates do not allow combined invoices.
Periodic reviews of home electrical installations are not mandatory, but “we advise an inspection of the parts of the electrical circuit that deteriorate over time: the black plugs, that have burned due to excess heat; the cables that are out of their protectors; and the plugs or switches that are broken or disconnected … “, says Rodriguez.