Householders in Spain will be wise to keep an eye on the time when using domestic appliances from 1 June, as changes which come into effect on that date could mean lower bills if electrical items are used outside peak hours. Even people who make no changes at all could benefit from a reduction of 3.4 per cent, which for an average bill of 60 euros would be a saving of a couple of euros, according to the National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC).
The days will be divided into three consumption periods: peak, which is the most expensive, between 10am and 2pm and from 6pm to 10pm; flat, from 8am to 10am, 2pm to 6pm and 10pm to midnight; and low, which is the cheapest, between midnight and 8am, and also weekends and public holidays.
However, there are some 'buts' to this new scheme. First, consumers who are already on the nighttime tariff will be charged two euros a month more. Second, people will need to change their habits to gain the most benefit.
For example, the CNMC says that a household could save up to 300 euros a year by not using several appliances at the same time (such as the washing machine and the cooker), or by charging electric vehicles at night instead of during the day. It estimates that electricity in the lowest periods of the day will be up to 95 per cent cheaper than during peak times. Even doing the ironing during the cheap period instead of peak times can save about 38 euros a year.
The Commission also says it is aware that this new way of encouraging people to change the times they use electrical appliances could lead to further modifications in the future, depending on the load on the electricity supply at certain times. However, no great changes are expected to occur to the consumption curve in the next two years. "In fact, not that many households changed their habits after the last modifications," say sources there.