homenews and insights how to cut electricity bills by tackling triads this winter

How to cut electricity bills by tackling Triads this winter

Oliver McMillen
By Oliver McMillen
22 October 2021

Business Development Director

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Here, SSE Energy Solutions explains more about what Triads are and how businesses can minimise their impact.

During the winter months, businesses and households tend to use much more electricity. To manage this demand, National Grid ESO uses Triads to encourage businesses to reduce electricity consumption at peak times.

If your business gets half-hourly electricity bills, it’s important to understand how Triads work as they can have a big impact on your total electricity bill.

What are electricity Triads?

National Grid uses Triads to work out how much half-hourly metered businesses will pay for their energy during the winter.

Triads are the three half-hour periods during the winter that see the highest demand for electricity. They can occur on any day from 1 November to the end of February. However, they must be at least 10 days apart so that they don’t fall on consecutive days.

They usually take place between 5pm and 6pm because that’s when industrial and domestic consumption tends to peak. But, Triads can and do sometimes fall outside this window.

How do Triads affect business energy bills?

Triads only affect businesses that get half-hourly bills, mainly medium and large industrial and commercial enterprises.

One of the most significant non-commodity costs on a business energy bill is the Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) charge. That’s what you pay to maintain the electricity transmission system in the UK.

If you get half-hourly bills, your total TNUoS charge for the coming financial year is calculated based on your average consumption in the three half-hour Triad periods. So, if your business uses a lot of electricity, optimising these costs can make a big difference to your annual spend. The more you reduce your consumption during Triads, the lower your TNUoS payments will be for the whole of the next year.

Can you predict Triads?

We can’t predict Triads with 100% certainty. That’s because Triads are only determined after the event. Every March, National Grid ESO looks back through the season’s data to find the three highest consumption peaks with at least 10 days between each one. So, businesses have to wait until spring to find out if they’ve got their forecasting right.

A growing awareness of Triads has also complicated predictions in recent years. The more businesses realise their impact, the more they cut consumption in typical peak periods, which affects when they occur. The increasing use of embedded generation and demand-side response is also levelling out demand.

Changing weather patterns and unforeseen events can upset expectations, too. During the 2020-21 Triad season, lockdown reduced industrial and commercial demand, but increased demand from customers staying at home. January and February saw several sharp drops in temperature at weekends, so a couple of weekly peaks occurred on a Friday and a Sunday – traditionally low-demand days.

How can you cut Triad-related costs?

Despite the uncertainty over when Triads occur, there are things you can do to minimise their impact.

Sign up for Triad alerts

SSE Energy Solutions offers a free Triad warning service for business energy customers. We work with energy specialists and weather forecasters to provide well-informed insights into when the busy periods could be. In the 2020-21 Triad season, SSE Energy Solutions’ Triad warning service alerted registered customers before each one.

National Grid also issues warnings when the system is likely to be under stress due to high demand and low generation.

Optimise your business hours and energy consumption

It’s a good idea to have a plan in place that includes ways you’ll minimise energy usage during the Triad period. You may be able to switch off non-essential machinery or use on-site generation. You might even consider changing your business hours to avoid Triads altogether.

Whatever changes you make, you’ll want to do a cost-benefit analysis to make sure any potential savings you make outweigh the costs incurred.

Use a Triad management service

If your business normally uses a lot of energy but you’re able to reduce consumption or use on-site generation, you could benefit from using a Triad management service. Our Virtual Power Plant (VPP) includes an automated Triad alert and dispatch service that helps you minimise Triad-related costs. What’s more, VPP can make the most of your energy flexibility, giving you access to new, valuable revenue streams.

Treat every day like a Triad

Regardless of when Triads occur, there are simple ways to cut your energy usage every day. By turning off lights when no one’s in the room or turning down your heating, you’re less likely to be hit by spikes.

SSE Energy Solutions offers tools and services to help you review the energy efficiency of your business, including full energy audits.

What next?

Triads are likely to have less impact on bills in future. Ofgem’s Targeted Charging Review has decided that fixed charges will largely replace the current Triad charging system. New site-based charging schemes are being planned for both transmission (TNUoS) and distribution (DUoS). DUoS changes are due to come into effect from April 2022 and TNUoS changes are likely to be delayed until April 2023.

So, if you’re planning to make changes to cut consumption in Triad periods, you should carefully consider your return on investment. On the other hand, reducing your overall energy usage will play an even greater role in cutting costs in future.

Sign up for free Triad warnings

Triads are determined by National Grid ESO so we can’t guarantee to give exact timings, but we’ll do our best to provide well-informed warnings.