Understanding energy tariffs can be tricky, but it could be the key to unlocking significant savings on your electricity bills. For example, if you have an innovative energy retailer like Amber Electric, you have access to the wholesale prices which means knowing how you can navigate peak and off-peak pricing effectively can translate into both efficiency and savings.   

Read on to know more.  

1. Understanding Wholesale Energy Tariffs:  

As you already know, your energy tariffs determine how much you pay for electricity. Dependng on your location, you may have lots of energy plan options and a handful of retailers currently offer access to wholesale energy prices. Wholesale energy prices can vary and are influenced by numerous factors, including weather conditions impacting renewables such as sunshine or wind, demand on the electrical grid, temperature extremes, and the operation of key generators and major transmission lines. In the short term, these variables lead to wholesale prices that are either lower or higher than usual. Occasionally, the wholesale price may even become negative, a situation often resulting from an excess of renewable energy in the grid. At these times you can actually get paid to use energy! Solar owners also have a Feed-in Tariff (FiT) which varies depending on when you export power, and you’ll typically receive more during summer when wholesale prices are usually higher. Importantly, FiT can also be negative, meaning you get charged for exporting your solar at certain times.

2. What You Can Do: Smart Strategies! 

2.1 Saving Potential on Energy Bills:  

Taking advantage of low or negative wholesale rates and avoiding negative FiTs can be a smart strategy that leads to substantial savings on your energy bills. By shifting your energy-intensive activities, such as running appliances or charging devices, to off-peak hours, you can reduce your overall electricity costs. For example, consider doing laundry or running the dishwasher during evenings or weekends when rates are typically lower. And when the FiT is negative you can increase your home energy usage by running appliances or opt to reduce your solar production by curtailing it.  

2.2 Optimising Energy Usage

To make the most of low or negative rates, it's essential to optimise your energy usage habits. Simple adjustments, such as programming your air conditioning thermostat to adjust temperatures during off-peak hours or scheduling tasks like pool pump operation for times when rates are lowest, can result in significant savings over time. 

Advanced Strategies: Smart Home Solutions

Thankfully, the world of energy management isn't all about complex charts and market fluctuations. Smart home technology has emerged as a powerful tool for consumers to take control of their energy use and capitalise on these price variations. 

Imagine a system that can learn your daily routines and automatically shift energy-intensive tasks like running a pool pump to off-peak hours when electricity prices are lower.  Additionally, smart thermostats can be programmed to adjust heating or cooling based on real-time pricing, ensuring comfort without sacrificing savings. 

These are just a few examples of how smart home solutions can empower consumers to become active participants in the energy market, translating complex pricing structures into real-world savings.

Smart Home Technology in Use

Smart home technology goes beyond simple scheduling.  Advanced systems can leverage real-time pricing data to make dynamic adjustments throughout the day. 

For instance, a smart home system might detect a sudden spike in wholesale electricity prices during peak afternoon hours.  In response, it could automatically adjust your smart thermostat a few degrees upwards in a comfortable range, reducing reliance on air conditioning and minimising energy consumption during this expensive period. 

These intelligent adjustments, based on real-time data, allow consumers to maximise their savings and optimise energy use.  Furthermore, smart home systems can integrate with various devices, creating a holistic energy management ecosystem.  For example, imagine a scenario where your electric vehicle (EV) is plugged in for charging.  A smart home system, aware of a dip in wholesale electricity prices during the night, could prioritise charging your EV during this off-peak period, taking advantage of lower costs and minimising the impact on your daytime energy consumption. 

By harnessing the power of smart home technology, consumers can transform their homes into dynamic energy management hubs, turning complex energy tariffs into a tool for significant savings and a more sustainable future. 

Our Recommendations

Now that you understand energy tariffs and how to navigate it, don't stop there! Here are some smart home management recommendations to put your knowledge into action:

For the Budget Conscious

Smart Plugs: These affordable devices transform regular outlets into smart outlets, allowing you to remotely control lamps, electronics, or even small appliances. Schedule lights to turn off automatically when not in use, or power down electronics on standby to minimise phantom energy consumption. 

Smart Power Strips: Similar to smart plugs, these offer multiple outlets for controlling entire groups of devices. Perfect for entertainment systems or home office setups, allowing you to easily power down everything with a single tap or set a schedule for automatic shut-off during peak hours. 

For the Automation Enthusiast

Smart Thermostats: These intelligent thermostats learn your preferences and create personalised heating and cooling schedules.  Some models go a step further, integrating with real-time pricing data to automatically adjust temperatures during peak hours, optimising comfort and minimising costs. One of the best picks in this category is the Voltello AirFlex.  

Your split-system air conditioner can be a significant contributor to peak hour costs, up to 42%, to be exact. Voltello AirFlex intelligently adjusts settings during these high-demand periods, reducing your heating and cooling expenses without compromising comfort, by making use of features like price spike force off and pre-cool during off peak hours.

Smart Home Hubs: These act as the central brain for your smart home ecosystem.  They connect various devices and allow you to create custom automations.  Imagine setting a scene where lights dim and the thermostat adjusts as you approach movie night, or automatically triggering the dishwasher to run when electricity prices are low.

For the Solar Power User

Smart Solar Management Gateways: These devices are a game-changer for solar panel owners that want to access flexable exports or are facing negative FiTs.  They connect to your inverter and monitor real-time pricing data or grid signals.  The device can then automatically curtail (reduce) your solar power export during periods of negative FiTs or grid strain, ensuring you don't get charged for sending excess energy back to the grid.

There are great reviews for the Voltello LinkZB – a smart inverter control device and a game changer in helping you avoid paying for surplus solar exports. The key features include real-time inverter response, grid edge decisions, export cost reduction, a user-friendly app with a 2-year subscription, and compatibility with multiple inverter brands. Its easy DIY installation, multi-inverter support, real-time data insights, and extensive communication options make it a cost-effective, efficient solution for advanced home energy management.

Smart Home Battery Systems:  These innovative systems store excess solar energy generated during the day for use at night or during peak hours when grid electricity prices are high.  This allows you to maximise self-consumption of your solar power and further reduce reliance on the grid.

Remember: The best smart home solution depends on your specific needs and budget.  Research different brands and devices to find the perfect fit for your home and energy goals.  With a little planning and the right tools, you can transform your home into a more energy-efficient and cost-saving haven! 

For more information on he recommended Voltello products, click here!