As you’re reading this, you’ve heard about the plan to incentivise people not to use power-hungry appliances at peak times. It’ll go live for the first time today, from 5pm-7pm GMT. People who have already signed up will get money off their bills for using less power during this period.
The National Grid plans to run the scheme again from 4.30pm-6pm GMT tomorrow.
Thanks to a number of international factors – not least the war in Ukraine – gas prices, as well as electricity prices, have soared. Not only does this mean rising bills, it also means that there may not be enough energy to go around in the UK on the coldest days this winter.
The current cold snap has meant that more people are switching on their central heating, which means increased demand and more strain on the grid.
Despite what you may imagine, there isn’t a surplus of gas and electricity available in the grid at any one moment, and the UK doesn’t have the resources to store lots as a reserve.
This is the first time for a very long time that the National Grid predicts that there won’t be enough, which is why it has come up with the Demand Flexibility Service.
Put simply, this works by predicting when there will be a shortfall of energy, then incentivising people to avoid putting their ovens, tumble dryers and other power-hungry appliances on at that time. The predicted times will be during peak usage hours: roughly from 4-7pm on week days, when people come home from work and school.
The obvious question is: how can you take part and get paid to help out? The key thing to know is that you can’t contact the National Grid directly. You can only join the scheme if your energy supplier is on board, and if you meet certain conditions.
The key condition is that you’ll need to have a smart meter, so your energy use can be monitored.
Which suppliers are offering rebates for using energy off peak?
According to the National Grid, 26 suppliers have now joined the scheme. You can check its list of approved suppliers to find out if your energy company is taking part. Many of the big suppliers, such as British Gas, EDF and Octopus are on the list.
If your supplier is on the list, you’ll be able to click through to find out if you can apply, and if so, how. In some cases, customers have already been invited via email to take part. Some suppliers, like Octopus, are still inviting people to join. Others, like EDF, are not allowing more people to join the scheme.
If you are contacted, be wary of scams. As with the £400 Government energy rebate, scammers will undoubtedly take full advantage of this new National Grid scheme and send fake emails with links to fake websites. Whatever you do, do not hand over your bank details.
How will I get the rebate?
This will depend upon your supplier, and each will have different terms.
For example. OVO’s scheme is offering a set amount: £20 for every month a household achieves its goals of lowering energy use, up to a maximum of £100 (the trial runs over five months). The money will be paid as credit into your account.
OVO estimates that 19% of an average household’s energy use takes place during peak time (4-7pm). It is looking for households to decrease their peak time energy use to just 12.5%. Other suppliers may choose different goals.
Octopus customers can expect £4 back for every 1KW they save compared to their normal usage during the specified timeframe. As explained on the company’s website, rewards are given as OctoPoints, which can be “turned into prizes”, donated to charity or received as “cold, hard cash”.
Do I have to reduce the total amount of energy I use?
No. You won’t need to switch off your lights or heating, for example. You simply need to avoid using power-hungry appliances and devices like your dishwasher or tumble dryer when you’re asked to.
You’ll still be able to use your oven to cook dinner, but you could look at swapping to an air fryer which, again, will use less power and save you money.
You’ll need to use these appliances earlier or later in the day. They usually feature delay-start timers, so it’s easy to load them when you usually would, but have them run their cycles later, after the peak times. To save money, use their Eco modes. It’ll take longer, but use less power.
Obviously, you will save money if you do use less energy overall. For more energy saving tips, find out how to see what your appliances and devices cost to run and see why longer dishwasher and washing machine cycles are the key to saving money.