Free electricity plans – how to make the most of zero cent power

Free Electricity Plans

In late November 2023, OVO Energy launched The Free 3 plan across NSW, SE QLD, SA and Victoria. The free electricity plans offers 0 cent/kWh power between 11am and 2pm every day of the year. That’s a game changer for households who can use that free power.

This article covers a range of strategies to shift energy use into the free power period and save more. And explains that even if you’re “not at home”, a household can still “shift and save”. In many ways this plan gives every household access to the benefits that solar owners already enjoy – crazy cheap daytime power for their home – but at no cost.

Why free electricity plans are a game changer.

Free electricity plans featuring a super off-peak period without any usage charges have the potential to allow savvy households to:

  • never pay for hot water
  • dramatically reduce their heating and cooling costs (particularly if their home is well insulated)
  • cut the costs of appliances you can set timers on
  • never pay to charge their EV at home

The next level for free power.

It’s worth noting that OVO Energy isn’t the first retailer to offer free power. In 2017, Dodo offered free power from 6am to 7am. More recently, GloBird Energy’s FreeLunch plan included 2 hours of cost-free electricity from midday to 2pm in SA and Victoria. OVO Energy has gone to the next level by adding a third hour of free power and making it available to consumers across all the AER States (NSW, SE QLD, SA) and Victoria.

So, how can a retailer offer free power for 12% of the day? As a result of so much daytime solar, the wholesale price is often negative. This happens because large solar and wind farms receiving renewable energy certificates can afford to bid below zero and still cover their very low running costs pay while coal-fired power stations bid even lower to avoid the cost of turning on and off turbines which is expensive. Of course, the retailer still needs to pay the network to move power from the generator to homes, plus cover environmental costs and other levies. But the electricity itself comes at a tiny cost. It’s primarily renewable, emissions-free electricity at that time of day and it needs to be used immediately as our grid has limited storage!

Who The 3 Free plan work could work for

If one or more of the following scenarios applies at your place – then you could take advantage of super off-peak free power;

  • you have a reverse cycle air conditioner that can be set to use a schedule/timer. Or an electric heater with a timer or external timer.
  • you have a heat pump hot water unit. These can be scheduled to heat your home’s water, which on average takes ~3 hours per day.
  • you have appliances with delay start timers – like a washing machine, dishwasher or clothes dryer.
  • you have a pool.
  • you have an EV that is at home on weekdays and/or the weekends.
  • somebody is at home during the day to run appliances requiring supervision or interaction. This includes induction cooktops, ovens, washing machines, dryers etc. Even two days a week working from home, plus the weekends, means a household would have direct access to free power most days.

How to make the most of free electricity plans.

In a three-hour period, a single-phase household could draw over 40kWh of electricity. This is enough to run everything in an average home for around two days. So there’s plenty of power available.
We’ll list out the devices that use lots of energy in a home and how you could take advantage of the 0 cent/kWh electricity available during the super off-peak period. It’s all about getting a little creative about when you use energy.

The big energy uses in a home.

For average homes, the energy used for heating and cooling accounts for around a quarter of costs, heating water another quarter, and appliances about one-third of energy costs. Lighting accounts for less than a tenth of energy cost thanks to superefficient LEDs! Put an EV in the garage and home charging will use as much electricity as a small household!

Where you could shift and save.

Here’s are 8 tactics for using free power plans to tackle big ticket energy uses in a home :

  1. Free A/C. Program your air conditioning (both cooling and heating) to run between 11am-2pm on any day you would normally heat or cool your home. This way you improve your comfort level with guilt-free A/C and save money on buying grid energy at other times of the day. At the end of day you can look forward to arriving home to a space which is warmer in winter or cooler in summer, with less need to run the A/C in the evening. In winter an electric heater on a wall timer can do the same trick!
  2. Clean up in the kitchen. Use the dishwasher timer for a midday start,
  3. Laundry shifts. Set the timer on the washing machine and/or clothes dryer.
  4. Off the wall. If you use general appliance like dehumidifiers or air purifiers, a wall timer can schedule no cost air cleaning. Or any other appliance. Of course somethings need to run 24/7. That’s fine because you’ll only be paying for 21/7 because they’ll get free power for 3 hours everyday.
  5. Get into hot water. If you have a heat pump hot water unit set the heating cycle to happen during the super off-peak window
  6. Complimentary home charging. If you have EV, set it to charge during the free window.
  7. Pump up the savings by running pool pumps 3 hours a day for free.
  8. Sunday lunch. Fire up the induction cook top, oven and electric appliances for a big kitchen session. It can be economical on your time and ingredients to cook in bulk for the week, plus the power is free.
The more power use that can be moved into the super off-peak window, the more a household can save.

Smart meter required.

You’ll need to have a smart meter at your property to get started on The Free 3 plan. If you live in Victoria – almost every home already has a smart meter. If you haven’t got a smart meter at your property, you could join the retailer on another plan and talk to OVO Energy about arranging for them to install a smart meter – and moving you to The Free 3 plan. In most states, installing a smart meter will require a tariff change.

Information current at 4th December 2023. Plans and rates change – so make sure to check the latest information on OVO Energy electricity plans here.

Disclaimer: OVO Energy are a WATTever referral partner. If you switch through WATTever to OVO Energy, we may receive a referral fee.