Are you considering a TXU or Reliant free nights and weekends plan? Free electricity plans can be very tempting, but after you read this, you’ll want to reconsider.
The bottom line is this: free nights and weekends plans are not a good option for most people, and they almost always end up costing you more.
Free nights and free weekend electricity plans can also be quite confusing, so let’s start with the basics.
What are free nights and weekends electricity plans?
First off, generally these plans either provide free electricity at night, or over weekends, not both.
Free nights plans take your kilowatt hour usage and split it into two categories: daily usage and nightly usage.
Usually the nightly free electricity period consists of the 10 hours from 8 pm to 6 am. For daily usage, you get charged a high price per kWh, around 18 cents. Nightly usage is “free,” but shows up on your bill at the same price per kWh. The total amount for nightly usage shows up as a credit or discount on your bill.
Free weekends electricity plans have a similar structure, with weekends generally defined as the 52 hour period from 8 pm Friday to 12 am Monday. You can use all the free electricity you want on the weekends. Sounds like a great option to save money on your electricity bill, right?
Well, actually, wrong!
Why free nights and free weekends plans will cost you more
The only way to save money with free nights or weekends plans is for most of your usage to be during the free electricity periods. The more free electricity you use during these times, the lower your price per kWh averages out to be.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of people’s energy usage doesn’t fit into these free periods.
When you do the math, you can see that free electricity plans are not set up to save you money. To pay a decent rate, you would need to use more than half of your total electricity in a period that is only 30-40% of your time. And during the overwhelming majority of this “free electricity” time, you will be asleep.
This is not realistic for most people.
A Free Nights Plan in Real Life
Let’s look at a real life example of a free nights bill.
The total electricity usage for this bill is 1319 kilowatt hours. This a typical usage level that most people hit at some point throughout the year.
You can see that 64% of the energy usage is during the regular period, and the remaining 34% of monthly usage occurred in the free period. Even after applying the nightly usage discount, this person paid a whopping 15.6 cents per kWh.
The customer thought this plan would save money, but 15.6 cents wasn’t close to the best rate available in Houston.
They would have saved way more money in a standard fixed rate plan at a reasonable price.
A free weekends plan that will cost you more
Look at what Reliant says about their Truly Free Weekends 12-month plan:
The first thing that should make you want to run is the advertised price.
They expect you to pay 17.8 cents per kWh at 1000 kWh. That’s the average price with the discount included!
When you examine the plan’s Energy Fact Label, you can see that the actual daytime energy charge is 20.85 cents per kWh.
If you only take one thing from this guide, take this: never sign up for a plan charging 20+ cents per kWh before the TDU charges. I don’t care how much free electricity a company promises you.
Why they don’t work for most people
I don’t know about you, but most people I know use the hours of 8pm to 6 am mostly to sleep. Most people I know also use the weekend to get out of the house and enjoy themselves. Your energy usage is a reflection of your lifestyle, and that usage directly influences your electricity costs.
After seeing your first bill with one of these “free” electricity plans, you may try to scramble to squeeze all your electricity usage into the free periods.
Sure, you can try to get your laundry done on Sundays, or try to run the dishwasher after 8 pm; that will help a little but it won’t be enough to move the needle.
Are you comfortable only running your air conditioner at night during the Texas summer? Or only taking hot showers on weekends? Do you want to spend Saturday cooking all your food for the week to avoid using your oven and stove on weekdays?
If you aren’t willing or able to make these huge lifestyle changes, don’t worry. You are among the majority whose lifestyles don’t fit with free night and weekend plans.
Are Night or Weekends free electricity plans ever a good idea? (Rarely!)
If you are a true night owl and are extremely active in the middle of the night, a free nights plan *might* work for you. It might also work for you if you:
- Have electric cars that you charge at home overnight (1 car is likely not enough to make it worth it)
- Mine bitcoin or other crypto currency and will only do so during the free periods
- Are willing to cool your house down to 50 degrees overnight and leave the AC off as long as you can stand it during the day
Likewise, there are a few categories of people who free weekends electricity plans might work well for. If you:
- Travel weekly for work and are only home on the weekends (watch out though, HVAC and refrigeration use more electricity while you are away than you might think)
- Use the plan for a separate garage meter and you do a lot of work in your garage on your weekends (e.g. building furniture with lots of power tools)
- Regularly throw wild parties that last all weekend long
Should I sign up for a free nights or free weekends electricity plans?
The answer to the question for most people is a loud and resounding “NO.” Free nights and free weekends are a gimmick used by electricity companies to get more of your money.
Do you think retail electric providers would design a complicated, harder to administer plan that made them less money? Of course not!
What plan should I sign up for if I want free electricity ?
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a “free electricity plan,” but you can do better than the free nights and weekends plans with simple, fixed rate plans.
You can compare any “free” electricity plans to any simple, fixed rate electricity plan. It’s easy to see which one will actually save you money.
Let’s look at a straightforward plan from a different Texas electricity provider.
This plan has a bundled rate, meaning you pay the same price for electricity, day or night, weekend or weeknight, and at high usage or low usage.
This flat, fixed rate allows you to live your life without worrying about the time of day you wash your clothes or when you should use hot water.
In a month where you use 1000 kWhs, your bill with this plan would be $78 cheaper than Reliant’s Truly Free Weekends plan shown above. This is clearly a much better plan.
Free nights and weekends electricity plans are cash cows for Texas energy companies like Reliant and TXU Energy. They know these types of “free” electricity plans will make them lots of money.
Texas electric companies advertise using words like “free electricity” and “truly free” because they know most customers don’t read the energy plan details.
Looking for the best electricity plan in Texas can be a lot of work. Texas has a highly competitive energy market, so many plans are complicated, and tricky, and downright gimmicky.
I know these retail electricity providers have to make their money somehow. That doesn’t mean you have to hand over half of your paycheck to pay for your monthly electricity bill.
To get a good energy plan, you have two options:
- Educate yourself about the Texas electricity market
- Put your trust in a company with experts who understand the market.
Signing up for an electricity plan service like Energy Simply can take the guesswork out of finding electricity plans. If you want to let someone else take care of it, we are a great option.
Otherwise, shop on Power to Choose and keep it simple!