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How to save on your energy bill: A deep dive into 'time of use' programs

Posted: 10:13 AM, Mar 08, 2022
Updated: 2022-03-08 12:16:37-05

You may have seen info about the new Time of Use program from Xcel Energy. About 310,000 Colorado customers started using the program in February, but there are important details you need to know about how it works.

Otherwise, it could cost you more.

In this Denver7 360 In-Depth report 📈

  • How Time of Use works
  • Where it will save you $$$ (depending on how you use electricity)
  • Why your lifestyle matters and why it may not be better for families with kids
  • How it could impact the Colorado environment

First, what does Time of Use mean? For Xcel Energy, it divides what it calls peak time into three categories.

Weekdays between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. is mid-peak. 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. is on-peak (most expensive time), and all times outside of that are off-peak hours. Weekends are also off-peak.

(Click the image below if you'd like the jump to our story and watch the video report.)

Basically, they're encouraging you to use the bulk of energy at times other than weekdays between 3 and 7 p.m. to potentially save money on your bill.

This includes things like cooking, laundry, and maybe even charging your electric car.

But, the concept may fit better for certain lifestyles.

“I have two children who are in elementary school so they come home from what you are saying at peak hours — around 3 p.m., 4 p.m. — and we do the bulk of our day, whether it is showers, watching a movie, cooking dinner, during those peak hours,” said Brandy Beck.

Still, this Denver mother realizes the impact it could have on the environment and said she’d be willing to give it a try.

“I think I will probably start off trying it out. I don’t have a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job so my schedule is very random. So, I can be home and do the laundry and the dishes not during peak hours frequently,” Clarke said.

So, if you have flexibility in your daily schedule, it helps.


To save the most $$$ each month, Xcel Energy says to avoid using these things between peak hours:

  • Dishwasher
  • Oven
  • Dryer/washing machine
  • And of course, A/C

Those probably don't surprise you, but avoiding using your TV, computer and other household items during peak hours really won't save you much.

Running your dishwasher when you go to bed or washing your clothes on the weekends are great ideas. Did we say flexibility is key to saving $$$? 🤑

Diving deeper into the rates, it's important to note the difference in the summer vs. winter cost to your wallet.

Using energy during peak hours in the summer will cost you around 11 cents more per kWh (kilowatt-hour) than in the winter.


Calculating rates can be a little confusing, so check out Xcel Energy's guide on how the Time of Use program works.

It only applies to residential customers, not commercial, and only impacts electricity rates and not natural gas.

By 2025, Xcel plans to transition all customers to the new rate plan.

Denver7 is dedicated to digging deeper into the issues that matter to help you find solutions to everyday problems. Check out more Denver7 360 In-Depth coverage here.