If you use the economy 7 tariff you may want to set your washing machine, dishwasher or tumble dryer to come on during the night. Many appliances have a built in delay timer these days but if yours hasn’t you may be able to get away with using a separate plug-in timer adapter. However, as many appliances no longer run until a start button is pressed by the user it may not be possible to start one up automatically if no one is present to start it. There may be a way round this problem though, which I discussed previously on my washing machine forum – It It Possible To Add A Timer To Use Economy 7?
Can I save money using my appliances on economy 7 during the night?
I’m not so convinced about economy 7 being significantly cheaper to use, and if not utilised properly it can even work out more expensive than a normal tariff. This is because the electricity is only cheaper during the specified 7 hours through the night, but during the rest of the day and evening it can be almost double normal rates – what’s that all about?
I would imagine that for some nocturnal people, or people with relevant storage heaters and low electricity usage during the day and evening it may make sense, but be wary of using the tariff because you assume you will save money without checking that you really will save.
Remember, you can only set your white goods appliance to come on once during the night because it needs unloading and these days many appliances – particularly washing machines – use much less electricity than in the past. The potential savings from using the washing machine once each night on economy 7 are likely to be a lot less than you might assume.
At the time of writing my own washing machine for example uses just over 1KW of electricity for an average wash, which costs about 10 pence. Even if the tariff was half the price using economy 7 I would only save 35 pence a week (7 nights washing at 10 pence = 70 pence so half that is 35p). Any saving is good, but not if your normal electricity usage during the day and evening costs more and completely wipes out the savings. (As electricity prices soar these savings are going to increase, check how much you currently pay for 1 unit of electricity to get a rough idea of context).
If the idea of economy 7 is to encourage people to use more electricity at night, which is good for the electric companies as it spreads the load, then I wonder why the tariff charges more for electricity during the day than you would otherwise pay? It’s clearly designed to punish you if you don’t use most of your electricity between the specified hours during the night. It’s clearly unsuitable for most people and I hope no one signs anyone up for it without looking properly into whether they will save money or not.
From research I’ve carried out, you need to use at least 40% of all your electricity during the 7 hour off-peak time during the night to make it worth while being on the tariff. (Source: Economy 7 – Wikipedia)
Is it safe letting my washing machine, dishwasher or tumble dryer run at night on Economy 7?Without wishing to appear to be trying to put people off, another consideration is safety. Personally I don’t care if I saved hundreds of pounds a year, I would not leave my potentially dangerous appliances running whilst we were all asleep in bed.
I certainly wouldn’t be interested in saving up to just 10 – 30 pence washing and tumble drying during the night when it means that if something went wrong it could be much more serious than if using the appliance during the day when people are about. (See safety notices about dangerous faults on appliances)
Related link: Reduce the energy costs of running all your white goods appliances Find the cheapest energy tariff through Which? Switch