In order to provide energy most efficiently to the grid, utility companies will monitor customers’ usage to determine times of significant demand and adequately prepare for them. If you understand your load profile, you can use this knowledge to determine what might be contributing to periods of higher energy consumption in your home, allowing you to find ways to reduce your energy usage (and save money in the process!). In this article, we’ll explain what you should know about your load profile.
- Your load profile is a way to understand how you use electricity in your home, and can help you notice places you can cut back on usage.
- Understanding your load profile can help you save money on your electricity bills by distributing your electricity usage more evenly across time.
- Low load factors indicate that you’re not using electricity efficiently.
- The best way to lower your electric bill is to install solar – head to the EnergySage Marketplace to receive multiple quotes from pre-vetted installers.
What’s in this article?
- What’s a load profile?
- What’s a load factor?
- What affects your load profile?
- How does your load profile impact your electric bill?
What’s a load profile?
A load profile is a graph that shows your energy usage on a daily or seasonal basis, as energy consumption can vary significantly from season to season. You can also look at the entire year to understand your energy usage over time. By understanding this graph, you’ll be able to see how your electricity usage varies over the course of a day (for example, you probably use more electricity at night when you’re home compared to during the day while you’re at work). It also can help you identify times that you could potentially cut down on your electricity consumption and accordingly save money on your electric bills.
Ideally, there would be a consistent level of electricity usage throughout the day, making it easy for utility companies to provide electricity to your home – unfortunately, this isn’t the case! Utility companies use your load profile to determine peak energy consumption times on the electrical grid, and may charge more for electricity during those times because the higher usage is putting a larger burden on electricity production. This planning for grid usage helps avoid blackouts, and also may result in the utility company charging a higher price for electricity during peak hours.
What’s a load factor?
Part of what goes into creating your home’s load profile is calculating a load factor, which is an indicator of how efficiently you’re using electricity in your home. A load factor is the ratio of your total electricity consumption, in kilowatt hours (kWh), compared to your peak demand in kilowatts-hour (kW) across a time period. Here’s an example:
Last month, you consumed 1,500 kWh of electricity and your peak demand during that month was 10 kW. You can calculate your load factor as follows:
1,500 kWh (your total consumption) / 10 kW (your peak electricity usage) x 31 days (number of days in the month) x 24 hours (number of hours each day) = 0.20, or 20%
Generally, if your load factor is below 50 percent, it’s considered low. So, in the example above you have a very low load factor, indicating that you’re not using electricity efficiently in your home: you have periods of high demand and times when you’re not using much electricity at all.
What affects your load profile?
Now that you understand load profiles and your load factor, you may be wondering what impacts your load profile and causes your load factor to be higher or lower. Let’s take a look at the main things that affect your load profile.
Location of your home
If you live somewhere that requires longer periods of heating and/or air conditioning use, you might find yourself with a load factor that is lower than that of someone that can spend a larger portion of the year with their windows open to a crossbreeze.
Type of heating and cooling in your home
The way you heat your home can also affect your load profile. If your home’s heating and cooling system is electric, you may notice more significant usage increases during the winter and summer months. On the other hand, if you use natural gas to heat your home, you’d only see that demand increase during the summer.
Electric vehicles, pools, etc.
Are you driving an electric car and charging it at home? First, lucky! And second, you may notice that your day-to-day load profile shows a significant increase in demand for electricity when you’re home and you have your vehicle plugged in to charge. Pools are another significant source of electricity demand during the months due to the energy required to pump and filter the water in them. While not as significant as larger items like EVs and pools, things like refrigerators, lights, and other small appliances contribute to daily electricity usage and to your load profile as a result.
How does your load profile impact your electric bill?
Understanding your load factor can help you identify periods of time where you may be using unnecessary amounts of electricity. The first step to lowering your electric bill is reducing your energy consumption! Are there appliances running constantly that don’t need to be? Do you have lamps that you leave turned on all day for no reason? Determining where you’re using excess energy is a great way to use your load profile understanding to reduce your electricity costs.
You can also use your new knowledge about your load profile to your advantage by running your home as efficiently as possible, and spreading out your electricity demand across the day. For example, instead of plugging in your EV to charge immediately when you get home from work (when you’ll also likely be using various appliances inside your home), plug your EV in later in the evening so it can charge while you’re sleeping. This will lead to lower peak demand, and could allow you to charge your EV when electricity costs less (depending on your utility rate structure). Your load factor percentage will increase the more you distribute your demand across the full 24 hours of a day, and some utility companies even give better rates to customers with better load factors.
If you live somewhere with demand charges, you’ll only see a decrease in your electric bill costs if you’re able to lower your maximum amount of power required in a single hour for your home. This can only be done by staggering your use of things that run on electricity in your home. You may also benefit if your utility utilizes time-of-use rates, meaning your electricity costs less during times when demand (and the cost of producing electricity) is generally lower – this helps to more evenly distribute electricity burdens on the grid.
Save money by powering your home with solar
Looking to save even more money on electricity costs in addition to improving your load factor? The best way to take control of your energy bill is to install solar panels. Compare quotes from our network of pre-screened, local installers on the EnergySage Marketplace where you’ll have access to rebates and incentives available in your area and our team of experts who can help you pick the best quote – all for free! To start your solar research with a quick estimate of what solar can save you, try our Solar Calculator.