Hard-pressed families could get paid to use less electricity during peak times this winter

27 June 2022, 10:25

Plans are being drawn up to reward households who use less power at peak times.
Plans are being drawn up to reward households who use less power at peak times. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Millions of households could get paid to use less electricity during peak times this winter under plans to avoid major blackouts.

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The scheme, proposed by National Grid’s electricity system operator (ESO), would see those with smart meters urged to ration their usage during peak times.

Families would be rewarded for carrying out power-hungry activities such as cooking, using the washing machine and playing on game consoles outside of peak times, when supplies are less scarce.

Households typically pay 28.34p for each kilowatt-hour of electricity they use, but could instead be paid as much as £6 for each kilowatt-hour they avoid using at peak times, according to The Times.

National Grid said rolling out the scheme could be more cost-effective and a greener alternative to paying fossil fuel power plants to churn out more electricity.

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Octopus Energy customers trialled the scheme earlier in the year, with consumers offered cash to cook dinner later or put washing on earlier.

Customers were told to reduce their energy consumption between 4.30pm and 6.30pm in February - a time when many people's electricity bills are higher due to the colder climate.

Octopus said the average household saved 23p per two-hour period, though some saved as much as £4.35.

A spokeswoman for National Grid ESO told The Times: "Demand shifting has the potential to save consumers money, reduce carbon emissions and offer greater flexibility on the system."

It comes as energy bills are expected to rise again in October, with households already paying soaring prices for their gas and electricity.

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Those with smart meters would be able to take part in the scheme.
Those with smart meters would be able to take part in the scheme. Picture: Alamy

It was thought bills could rise by £800 when Ofgem increases its price cap in October, however the head of the energy company warned it could be even higher.

Ofgem CEO Jonathan Brearley told LBC's Nick Ferrari: "The market is changing. It's changing day by day. That's not a fixed number and it may well change before we get to October."

Nick pushed Mr Brearley, asking whether the price cap could rise yet again before October.

"It could go up, it could go down", the Ofgem chief declared.

The Ofgem energy price cap, which sets a limit on the rates a supplier can charge for each unit of gas and electricity you use, rose by 54% on April 1.

Experts at Cornwall Insights predict the price cap will rise to a higher £2,980 in October, before hitting £3,000 in January.