The Demand Flexibility Service: how can I be paid to switch off my oven?

National Grid is set to run its new scheme that pays people to reduce their electricity use for the first time.

Eyeing tight supplies on Monday, experts called the first live run of the Demand Flexibility Service during the late afternoon. In the past the service has only been run as a test.

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– What is the Demand Flexibility Service?

Every minute of every day the grid needs to ensure that the amount of electricity being produced in or imported to Britain exactly matches the amount being used.

If demand and supply are not well balanced it could lead to the grid collapsing.

Traditionally, in order to ensure they are matched, the grid got more supply online by telling power plants to produce more.

But the new Demand Flexibility Service, launched last autumn, adds a new string to its bow where it can reduce demand at specific times by asking people and businesses to cut back, and rewarding them financially if they do.

– When does the next session run?

Between 5pm and 6pm on Monday, customers will be able to get money back if they have signed up and slash their electricity use.

– How much can I save by signing up?

It depends on how much you reduce your normal electricity use by. Octopus Energy – the most active supplier in the Demand Flexibility Service – said customers that have opted in will get around £3.37 for every unit of electricity they save.

Some electric ovens use around one unit every hour, so if you normally use your oven between 5pm and 6pm you could save more than £3 by using it after 6pm instead.

– Will I be punished if I don’t save any electricity? 

No. If you do not save any electricity when the Demand Flexibility Service is running you will not be punished, you will simply miss out on the savings.

Instead you will pay the normal amount for the electricity that you use during those hours.

– How do I sign up?

If your supplier is part of the Demand Flexibility Service, not all are, you can sign up by getting in touch with them. Most should have an option on their website.

Many of the suppliers require you to have a smart meter in order to get involved, so that will limit who signs up.

After you have registered your interest you will need to opt in every time the service is run. You will get a text or an email from your supplier ahead of time, letting you know it is time to opt in.

– Is there a sign-up deadline?

It will depend on how your energy supplier runs its system. Some may require you to sign up some time in advance.

However, certainly with some suppliers you can sign up just before the system launches. Octopus Energy said that those of its one million customers who are not yet signed up can do so up until the moment the service starts at 5pm on Monday.

– Which suppliers are taking part?

There are 26 suppliers on the list of companies that are taking part in the Demand Flexibility Service, but some of these only supply businesses, not regular households.

The biggest household suppliers that are taking part are: British Gas, E.on Next, OVO Energy, Shell Energy, EDF and Octopus Energy.

– What are the best things to turn off to save electricity?

It depends, but as a rule of thumb, anything that uses electricity to produce heat is a good place to start.

This includes electric heaters and ovens.

It does not make much sense to switch off your lights during these hours, because lightbulbs take very little electricity, especially if they are modern ones.

It would take hundreds of hours to save just £3 by switching off a lightbulb.