I want off-peak!
For residential users, off peak can refer to 2 different types of off peak. The first type of residential off peak refers to your electric hot water and/or slab (space) heating. That means your general lighting electricity usage is still charged at peak rate but your electric hot water (which normally comes on at 11pm or 2 am) is charged at off peak rate. The second type of residential off peak measures all your electricity usage (general lighting and electric hot water)from a certain time of the day, for example 11pm to 7am Mon-Fri and all day Saturday and Sunday as off peak (if you are in Victoria).
The first type of off peak and peak rates are normally termed GD (General Domestic) with Off Peak. The second off peak and peak rates are termed GH/GL (formerly Winner tariff). The GH/GL peak rate tends to be higher than the peak rate for GD.
Whether you have off peak component does depends on the type of meter you have. Say if you have electric hot water at home but it does not have a meter to measure the electricity used separately from the general use then you will probably be on the GD tariff (anytime rate). If your meter is capable of measuring peak and off peak usage (has a time switch) then you could go on to GH/GL tariff.
If you have a basic meter which measures only all peak but you would like to have off-peak, then you may need to change your meter or have your time switch adjusted (subject to your meter capability). You may incur a cost for installation of a new meter but do talk to your current retailer about the options. For a residential, it may be better to leave it as it is depending on the savings you will get from switching to two-rates and the costs incur to extract the savings.
In Victoria, businesses who are on energy-only charges generally are on one of the 3 tariffs:
1. All time rate (Tariff E)
2. 5-day peak (Tariff D)
3. 7-day peak (Tariff E1)
For more information on the definition of the peak and off peak, please refer back to my blog: Definition of Peak and Off Peak - Part 1 and Part 2
Whether or not you can have off peak rate really depends on the type of meter you have and if it is capable of measuring peak and off peak time.
Scenario 1: I have a basic meter and currently on single-rate but I want two-rate tariff
In this case you may need to change your meter so that your meter is capable of recording the peak and off peak usage. The meter can be either Manually Read Interval Meter (MRIM) or Remotely Read Interval Meter (4 different types depending on your annual usage - known as COMMS1, COMMS2, COMMS3 and COMMS4 being the smallest). MRIM is usually the cheaper option as the installation cost is a once-off cost of a couple of hundred dollars depending on the types of meter and distribution region and your retail service charge normally remains the same as when you were on a basic meter. The disadvantage of MRIM however is that as the name suggests, the meter is still manually read by the meter reader based on your reading cycle which could be monthly or quarterly.
Remotely read interval meters are more expensive with higher retail annual service/metering charges which could be as high as $900 to $1000 per annum. However, as the meter is remotely read via the phone line every day, you will get billed on actual data every month.
Once you decide to change the meter, remember to advise your retailer or distributor that you want a two-rate tariff. Remember though, even if the off peak rate is cheaper, unless you plan to operate between 11pm to 7am Mon-Fri and anytime on Saturday and Sunday (Tariff E1 are closed to new customers in most or all distribution regions in Victoria), you may be better off in a single-rate tariff (for example, a small office).
Scenario 2: I have an interval meter and on a single-rate but I want two-rate tariff
In this case it is probably simpler. You do not need to change your meter as the interval meter is capable of measuring peak and off peak. All you need to do is request your retailer to have your network tariff changed by the distributor (note that at the moment if you are in Alinta/United Energy area - around the South/South East, you cannot move to two-rate as all two-rate tariffs are closed to customers). Change of network tariff is still at the discretion of the distributor hence there is no guarantee you will be able to get peak/off-peak rates.