Time of Use (TOU) Pricing: Definition & Meaning - ShopSolar.com
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Time of Use (TOU) Pricing: Definition & Meaning

Time of Use (TOU) Pricing Definition

Abbreviation: TOU

Time of Use (TOU) pricing refers to an electricity billing structure where rates vary based on the time of day, season, and day of the week. With TOU pricing, electricity prices are typically divided into different periods: peak, off-peak, and sometimes shoulder or mid-peak. These periods reflect the demand on the electricity grid and the cost of generating and distributing electricity at different times.

Peak Hours: These are periods when demand for electricity is highest, often coinciding with typical working hours or when people return home in the evening. During these hours, electricity rates are usually at their highest.

Off-Peak Hours: These are times when demand for electricity is lowest, typically during the night or early morning. Electricity rates during these hours are lower, offering consumers an incentive to shift some of their power usage to these times.

Shoulder or Mid-Peak Hours: In some TOU systems, there's a middle category between peak and off-peak, representing intermediate demand levels and prices.

The purpose of TOU pricing is to encourage consumers to adjust their consumption habits, potentially reducing strain on the electricity grid during high-demand periods and utilizing renewable energy sources more effectively. For instance, solar modules and solar arrays often produce maximum power during mid-day, a period that can be off-peak or shoulder in some regions. By charging appliances, electric vehicles, or storing energy in home batteries during these hours, consumers can benefit from lower rates while also supporting the integration of renewable energy into the grid.


"With TOU pricing, homeowners with solar panels can maximize savings by using stored solar energy during peak pricing hours and consuming grid electricity during off-peak periods."

Know your solar definitions to learn and understand more about solar power. Develop your solar lingo here.

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