With fuel scarcity an issue this winter, the UK’s National Grid has warned that it may need to resort to pre-planned blackouts in some areas, cutting off electricity to businesses and homes for three hours at a time.
Unsurprisingly, it’s looking for alternative ways to conserve power, and the Government has attempted to reassure everyone that power cuts are “extremely unlikely”. However, we’ve since heard that “planned blackouts” still might be on the cards.
However, one measure that may help – as well as helping people to save money on their energy bills – is for energy suppliers to incentivise off-peak energy use.
How will the off-peak energy rebate scheme work?
The National Grid has come up with what it is calling the Demand Flexibility Service. It worked with Octopus Energy earlier this year, giving 100,000 customers a day’s notice to cut their power consumption during peak energy usage periods.
Now, it wants energy suppliers to run similar schemes. The idea is that energy suppliers, like Octopus, OVO, E.On, EDF and British Gas offer the scheme to eligible customers (having a smart meter is one requirement) and ask them to avoid running energy-hungry appliances (both gas and electric) at peak times.
Different suppliers have different peak time estimates, with some identifying it as 4-8pm and others choosing a smaller window within that time frame, such as 4.30-6.30pm.
Around this time of day, families get in from work or school and fire up all their appliances to cook dinner, as well as using other devices around the home.
That creates a problem. As we’re no longer getting gas from Russia, there may not be enough being put into the grid to go around all the homes demanding it this winter. Gas is also used to generate electricity.
If energy companies can get people to spread out their energy usage more evenly throughout the day, supply and demand on the grid will be more balanced.
This doesn’t mean you’d need to switch off your lights or heating, but you’d avoid using power-hungry appliances and devices like your dishwasher or washing machine.
Those appliances 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.
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.
OVO, Octopus, E.on, British Gas and EDF have confirmed they will all be taking part, but even if one of these supplies your energy, it doesn’t mean you automatically stand to get paid up to £100 for using energy off peak.
Which suppliers are offering rebates for using energy off peak?
As of the end of October, we’re still waiting for details to be announced from most suppliers.
Here’s what we know so far:
More than 3.5 million of its customers will be eligible to take part and get rebates, but it hasn’t said how much you could get back, nor how to apply. Registration should open soon, so keep an eye on your emails and British Gas’s website.
Unfortunately, only 5,000 of OVO’s customers will be able to participate, and they’ll be emailed by the company. The other 4.5m customers won’t get a chance to take part and get up to £100 of rebates.
The company says that all customers with smart meters are eligible and can earn £4 per kWh they save compared to normal usage, up to around £100 in total.
E.on and EDF have yet to announce details of their schemes.
How much money could you save?
This will depend upon your supplier, and each will probably have different terms.
The OVO scheme, unlike Octopus’s, 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 money will be paid as credit into your account. So, essentially, it’s like money off your monthly bills.
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.
How do I sign up for the rebates?
Currently, you can’t. Wait for your energy supplier to contact you, and bookmark this article as we’ll be updating it with more details as soon as they emerge.
While you’re waiting to hear from, watch out for 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.
Your energy company already has your payment method, and in any case, the rebates will almost certainly all be like OVOs and be credited to your account automatically.
Also remember that not everyone will be able to take part in the rebate scheme. You will benefit only if your energy supplier is participating, but you’ll also need to have a smart meter installed in your home so that your energy usage can be monitored.
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.