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Electricity Tariffs

What are electricity tariffs and why is it important to know which one you are on?

Your retailer charges you for the electricity used in your home based on a specific tariff. The tariff is the rate charged for providing energy under your contract. Retailers offer a range of tariffs for their customers. By selecting the right tariff for your electricity consumption, you can make significant savings on your energy bill.

In some cases, you can improve savings by changing when you use electricity to take advantage, for example, of low daytime energy costs.

We recommend you speak to your electricity retailer for more information about their various tariff offers and what might be best for you.

Electricity tariffs explained 

The electricity bill you receive from your retailer covers all the costs associated with your supply. This includes energy generation costs, environmental and government schemes as well as the cost of transporting energy to you via the transmission and distribution networks. 

We manage the distribution system of substations, Stobie poles and wires that connect electricity to homes and businesses around South Australia. We don’t bill you directly for our services, we bill your retailer for delivering the power you need.

Our distribution charges make up less than a third of the total bill for a typical residential customer. Read more about understanding your bill and power pricing at understanding power pricing.

This image shows how our charges make up just a small percentage of a customer's power bill.

Image: The image shows our charges as a percentage of a customer's power bill (graphic is based on 2023-24 Australian Energy Regulator Default Market Offer).


The tariffs that customers pay to their retailers can fluctuate. As with most markets around the world, when something is in high demand, you generally pay more for it. That is why it is more expensive to buy electricity during peak times of the day (morning and evening) when demand is strongest. 

At other times of the day, when demand is lower (like in the middle of the night), or when there is a lot of available energy (during the middle of the day due to an abundance of rooftop solar) electricity is cheaper.

Types of tariffs

Retailers offer different tariffs to households. Speak to your retailer to find out which one you are on. It is most likely either the Single Rate or Time of Use tariff.

Single Rate tariff

If you are on Single Rate, it means that you are charged a flat rate for your electricity usage, no matter what time of day or night you are using it.

Time of Use tariff

If you're on Time of Use, it means that the price of electricity (or the tariff you are charged) fluctuates, depending on the time of day. It is more expensive to use electricity at peak times, and there are significant discounts for using electricity at other times (known as ‘off-peak’ or ‘solar sponge’).

If you're on Time of Use, SA Power Networks has three different periods that apply during the day.

Note, your retailer may offer different time periods than the ones noted below.

Read more about SA Power Networks' different Time of Use periods:


  • 6:00am – 10:00am and 3:00pm – 1:00am

These are traditionally the times of highest demand and when electricity costs the most.


  • 1:00am – 6:00am

Pricing applied for a five-hour off-peak block every day, usually overnight. 

Solar sponge

  • 10:00am – 3:00pm

Also sometimes known as 'shoulder': This is usually the cheapest time to use energy - in the middle of the day when solar generation is typically at its highest.

Time of Use tariff times

Image: An indication of which tariffs apply at different times of the day.


SA Power Networks does not charge fees or tariffs directly to households or businesses. SA Power Networks charges your retailer fees called distribution network charges. You should discuss your tariff with your electricity retailer. 

Learn more about SA Power Networks’ role.

How do I know if I have Single Rate or Time of Use tariff?

If you have a smart meter (a smart meter records how much energy is used in 5, 15 or 30 minute intervals. It is read remotely with the energy data being sent each day to the retailer) you may have a Time of Use tariff.

This depends on your meter type, when it was installed and the types of tariffs offered by your retailer. You may find the answer:

  • By checking your meter
  • By checking your bill
  • By asking your retailer

How can the Time of Use tariff save you money?

The Time of Use tariff can save you money on your electricity bill if you adapt the way you use electricity.

Adjusting the way you use electricity for a Time of Use tariff

The peak time is the most expensive time to use electricity. The higher the demand for energy, the higher the price. On the other hand, the cheapest time of day to use electricity is during the middle of the day, when the sun is shining and there is plenty of available electricity being generated by rooftop solar.

The Time of Use tariff offers customers an incentive to shift controlled load (such as electric hot water heating) to the middle of the day, encouraging residential electricity consumers to use more energy when we have a surplus of cheap solar energy being generated on rooftops across the State.

If you can change the way you use electricity, you could make significant savings by switching to a Time of Use tariff and using appliances like washing machines, dishwashers and pool pumps to work during the period when energy is cheapest.

Talk to your retailer

We recommended that you speak to your retailer to ensure you are on the deal that best suits your energy needs.

Get independent advice

The Energy Made Easy website is a free Australian Government energy price comparison service which allows you to enter your consumption data and compare retail offerings to find a product suitable for you.