You can now opt out of Time-of-Use Pricing
If you’re a residential or small business customer that pays Time-of-Use (TOU) electricity prices, you can choose to switch to Tiered prices.
To switch from TOU to Tiered prices, you must notify your utility by completing an election form. You must contact your utility or visit their website for the election form.
If you want to continue paying TOU prices, no action is required.
Considering a switch? Your top questions answered here. Or learn more below.
- About the Price Plans – TOU and Tiered
- Considering a switch – things to keep in mind
- Bill Calculator
- Rules and how to switch
With TOU prices, the price depends on when you use electricity.
There are three TOU price periods:
- Off-peak, when demand for electricity is lowest. Ontario households use most of their electricity – nearly two thirds of it – during off-peak hours.
- Mid-peak, when demand for electricity is moderate. These periods are during the daytime, but not the busiest times of day.
- On-peak, when demand for electricity is generally higher. These are the busier times of day – generally when people are cooking, starting up their computers and running heaters or air conditioners.
With TOU pricing, you can help manage your electricity costs by shifting your usage to lower price periods when possible.
People use electricity differently depending on the season, so the TOU price periods are different in the summer than they are in the winter.
With Tiered prices, you can use a certain amount of electricity each month at a lower price. Once that limit (called a threshold) is exceeded, a higher price applies. The threshold changes with the season to reflect changing usage patterns – for example, there are fewer hours of daylight in the winter and some customers use electric heating.
In the winter period (November 1 – April 30), the Tier threshold for residential customers is 1,000 kWh, so that households can use more power at the lower price. In the summer period (May 1 – October 31), the Tier threshold for residential customers is 600 kWh. The Tier threshold for small business customers is 750 kWh all year round.
Tiered prices give you the flexibility to use electricity at any time of day at the same price, although that price will change if you exceed the threshold during the month.
We set both TOU and Tiered prices under the Regulated Price Plan (RPP). The RPP is designed to provide stable pricing, encourage conservation and ensure that the price customers pay for electricity better reflects the price paid to generators that produce the electricity that they use in their homes or small businesses. We set TOU and Tiered prices so that both recover the same forecast average cost of supply for a typical consumer.
We review TOU and Tiered prices every six months and reset them if necessary – typically on May 1 and November 1 – based on an estimate of how much it will cost to supply RPP customers with the electricity that they are expected to use.
Power is personal. Some customers may prefer TOU prices. For instance, customers who work different shifts may be able to use more of their electricity at times when lower off-peak prices apply, and customers who recharge their electric cars may also want to take advantage of the lower off-peak prices that apply at night. Others may favour Tiered prices because they want the flexibility to do their household chores at any time of the day, or their total usage rarely exceeds 600 kWh in a month in summer, or 1,000 kWh in a month in winter.
Whatever you choose, one thing remains certain: the less electricity you use, the less you pay. And no matter what your price plan is, you are eligible for government programs like the Ontario Electricity Rebate and the Ontario Electricity Support Program.
Are you thinking about opting out of TOU prices in favour of Tiered prices? Here are a few things to consider. Make sure you have some of your recent electricity bills handy as you go through the information below. Keep in mind the effect of COVID-19 on your electricity use (for instance, you may be working from home when you normally wouldn’t be). Most of the information you will need is on the Electricity line of your bill.
Do you pay TOU or Tiered prices for your electricity? If you’re unsure, take a look at the Electricity line of your bill. Most residential and small business customers in Ontario pay TOU prices.
How much electricity do you use in a month? If you’re unsure, take a look at the Electricity line on your bill. You might also want to look at the historical usage graph on your bill, which shows your average daily use over the past 12-month period.
When you use electricity can be another factor in your choice. Historically, the typical residential customer who paid TOU prices has used nearly two thirds of their power at off-peak times – the time when the lowest TOU price applies. The other third of their power use was typically split equally between on- and mid-peak times. Look at the Electricity line of your bill to see how much power you use in each of the three TOU price periods.
As described above, the TOU price periods and Tier thresholds change with the season and are different during the winter (November 1 – April 30) and summer (May 1 – October 31) periods. Does the amount of electricity you use change based on the season?
If you’re thinking about switching, you should pay close attention to how much electricity you use in a month, because on Tiered pricing the price is higher for every kWh of electricity that you use above the Tier threshold of 1,000 kWh in the winter or 600 kWh in the summer. For instance, if you heat your home electrically, your monthly use in the winter may be higher. And the same goes for the summer if you need to run your air conditioner.
With TOU prices, the price depends on when you use electricity. Although the TOU price periods also change with the season, the electricity you use after 7 p.m. every day, and all the time on weekends and holidays, is charged at the lowest price under TOU all year round.
Are you often home during the day on weekdays, so that shifting your usage is more challenging? Do you have large appliances that you need to run during the day on weekdays? Can you shift more of that usage to nighttime or weekend hours?
We've created videos that feature lifestyles of different customers considering their pricing options. Watch them below.
If you’re a small business owner, some of the same factors mentioned earlier also apply – how much electricity do you use each month, and when do you use it? Keep in mind that the Tier threshold for small business customers is 750 kWh all year round. And not all small businesses are the same. A large restaurant with several ovens running in the evening may have very a different electricity usage pattern than a small salon that’s only open during the day. So may a dry cleaner compared to a convenience store, or a clothing store compared to a bakery.
Watch our videos that feature lifestyles of different customers considering their pricing options.
There is no guarantee you will save money if you switch from TOU to Tiered prices. The total bill impact of switching will vary depending on how much electricity is consumed in a month and when it is consumed during the day.
If you’re a TOU customer and don’t want to switch to Tiered prices, you don’t need to do anything. You will stay on TOU prices.
If you do want to switch to Tiered prices, here are the rules that apply. These rules also apply if you later want to switch back to TOU prices.
- Electricity utilities must make election forms available on their websites, and to any customer that requests it. They must accept election forms by email or mail at a minimum. You may be able to fill out a form online or over the phone. Contact your electricity utility to find out if these options are available.
- You’ll need to fill out the election form to notify your electricity utility that you want to switch. The OEB has told electricity utilities to make the form as simple as possible in terms of the information that you need to provide. You should have a recent electricity bill on hand when filling out the form, as you will need your utility account number. For help to find the account number and other parts of an electricity bill, see our sample bills:
- Within 10 business days of receiving your election form, your electricity utility must tell you if your election form can’t be processed and must explain why (for instance, if you’re not authorized to make changes to the account, or the account can’t be verified).
- If there are no issues with your election form, your electricity utility has the same 10 business days to let you know when you can expect to start being billed on Tiered prices.
- A switch from TOU to Tiered prices can only take effect at the start of a billing period. You are generally billed for a 30-day period, and the start and end dates are identified on your electricity bill. Many customers are not billed based on a calendar month, and for many customers the start of your billing period can be any given day of a month.
- Your electricity utility must start charging you Tiered prices as of your next billing period after you submit your election form if it receives that form at least 10 business days before that billing period starts.
- If your electricity utility receives your election form less than 10 business days before the start of your next billing period, it might still be able to switch you for your next billing period. But if it can’t do so, it has to start charging you Tiered prices at the start of the next billing period after that.
- Because a switch in prices can only take effect at the beginning of a billing period, it will take some time between the day you provide your election form and the day you actually start getting charged Tiered prices.
- Even if you provide your election form to your electricity utility before the end of a month (for example, October), you’ll very likely pay TOU prices for at least some period of time – between the first of the following month (for example, November 1) and the time when your next complete billing period starts (or the billing period after that, depending on when you provide your election form).
- If you have chosen to switch to Tiered prices and later decide you want to go back to TOU prices, you can do that at any time. The process described above applies.
- Electricity utilities are required to inform all new residential and small business customers that they have a choice between TOU or Tiered prices when they set up the account.
- The choice between TOU and Tiered prices is available to residential and small business customers that have smart meters and are billed on TOU. Some residential and small business customers are charged Tiered prices because their meters can’t be used to bill TOU prices. They can’t switch to TOU prices at this time.
- If you live in a condominium or apartment that has its own individual meter and your bill comes from a company other than an electricity utility, you are a customer of a unit sub-meter provider (USMP). Customers of USMPs also can’t switch to Tiered prices. That decision can only be made for the building as a whole by the “master consumer,” who is the person that retained a USMP for the property. In most cases, the master consumer is the property manager, landlord or condominium board.
- Customers that are buying their electricity from an energy retailer pay the electricity price set out in their contract. Once they have left their retail contract, they will have a choice between paying TOU or Tiered prices. For details about your energy contract, contact your energy retailer.
Still have questions?
Contact us or your electricity utility.
If you want to switch to Tiered pricing, you must contact your electricity utility for the election form. The OEB does not process requests to switch.