(Photo: John Lamb via Getty Images)
Households will now be able to get a discount on their electricity bills and dodge a nationwide blackout this winter – as long as they reduce their usage at peak times for a few days.
National Grid has just announced a new scheme which could save individual homes up to £100.
There will be 12 “test” days at first between November and March where customers will get 24 hours’ notice beforehand.
They will then be asked to reduce their peak-time electricity use if possible during a particular one-hour period.
So homes may be asked to not use a washing machine or cook dinner in a microwave not an oven during this time.
This timeframe will probably occur between 4pm and 7pm, as this is the busiest time on the network.
But, only homes with smart metres will be able to take part – this adds up to 14 million households, less than half of all the homes in England, Scotland and Wales.
Smart metres measure the energy used in the home, and provide almost live updates of how much your household is using per day.
This information is then sent to your supplier directly, in real-time, and supposedly means consumers only pay for what they use as the bills are more accurate.
However, smart metres have been criticised before because areas with weak signal might mean they can’t send the data to suppliers.
National Grid will also be paying energy suppliers who sign up to the scheme £3 for every kilowatt-hour during the test periods.
The scheme is called Demand Flexibility Service is being tested on a wide scale for the first time, so the system can become an “insurance policy” if blackouts loom this winter.
There have already been reports of how the government has been preparing for up to seven-day national blackouts this winter, due to the strain the war in Ukraine is putting on Europe’s energy supply.
Households may also have to endure power cuts up to three hours at a time if gas supplies drop.
This new programme, already approved by the UK’s energy regulator Ofgem, could help ease any of these problems. Electricity suppliers and providers can sign up and offer the scheme to their own customers.
Individual companies (such as Octopus Energy, who has already signed up) will then get to decide what discounts customers receive, and how.
Businesses may be able to get in on the programme too, by switching schedules or moving to generators for peak times.
Director of corporate affairs at National Grid ESO Jake Rigg said that this could both save money and reduce carbon emissions.
He told the BBC: “It’s not a big thing or a difficult thing to do, just remembering to do 21 times this winter and get that money back, when we are all really struggling with energy bills and the cost of living generally.”
National Grid still believes the UK will be able to enjoy the same energy levels as previous winters, but hopes this programme could save two gigawatts of electricity – that’s enough to power one million homes.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.