How to get paid to use appliances at off peak times

The UK is reportedly facing blackouts this winter in a bid to save energy, National Grid has warned. (Stock image: Getty)
The UK is reportedly facing blackouts this winter in a bid to save energy, National Grid has warned. (Stock image: Getty)

As the UK faces reports of looming blackouts this winter, one proposed energy-saving measure is for households to be paid to only use their appliances at certain times, it has been reported.

On Thursday, the National Grid warned that millions of homes and businesses could face planned power cuts in the “extreme” case of gas shortages and reduced electricity imports from the rest of Europe.

Emergency plans could see power cut off for certain consumers for three-hour periods, following advanced warning, in an effort to reduce consumption.

Watch: What are blackouts and why might they happen this winter?

Another measure could see households being paid to use their appliances at off-peak hours to help save energy.

Why will households be paid to use appliances at certain times?

The idea is that people will be encouraged to use appliances - such as running washing machines or charging electric cars - during off-peak hours.

This would shift power use away from times of high demand and hopefully help prevent blackouts.

Reports suggest that a "demand flexibility service" would run through the winter, from November to March.

Consumers would potentially be able to sign up with their electricity supplier and get rewarded with money back on their bills.

According to data from Ovo Energy, households tend to consume a fifth of their daily energy between 4pm and 7pm.

Woman’s hand loading dirty laundry in a white washing machine
People will be encouraged to use appliances like washing machines at night time. (Stock image: Getty)

National Grid Electricity System Operator's director of corporate affairs Jake Rigg said: "The demand flexibility service is a first of its kind and a smart way for signed-up consumers in homes and businesses to save money and back Britain.

"If you put your washing machine or other electrical appliances on at night instead of the peak in the early evening, you can get some money back when we all need it.

"The service is due to launch in November, so watch out for further details soon. This really is a window into the future where a flexible energy system will be cleaner and lower cost to alternatives."

What will the scheme do?

The scheme is hoped to alleviate pressure on the UK's power supply and prevent blackouts.

National Grid warned on Thursday that strains this winter could mean that it has to interrupt people's supply for limited periods - staging three-hour blackouts at pre-announced times in some areas.

Read more: Energy crisis will push thousands of UK firms to collapse, CBI warns

It hopes that such a service will free up an extra 2GW - enough to power about 600,000 homes - if enough companies and households participate.

It has said the UK is facing a "challenging" winter, with dire consequences if the UK can't get enough gas to power its electricity supply.

Watch: Lizz Truss rules out energy-saving campaign amid power blackout warning

How will the scheme work?

If you are someone who can sign up, which might depend on your supplier, you could find yourself asked to reduce your electricity use during certain hours when supply of electricity is low this winter.

This could see consumers involved in the scheme sent a text on warning them of high demand at certain times the following day.

If they then use less electricity during those hours, they would be rewarded with money off their bills.

Has this been done before?

Earlier this year, Octopus Energy trialled a scheme which rewarded 1.4million customers for reducing their usage during peak hours.

The trial in February saw homes encouraged to reduce their energy use between certain peak hours in a bid to balance supply and demand during busy periods across the country's networks.

Ovo Energy has also announced that customers could get up to £100 back by shifting their energy usage to off-peak times.

Its trial, from 1 November to 31 March 2023, would see customers rewarded with £20 each time they achieve the goal.

What other ways can I use to cut my energy bills?

Some energy suppliers already offer tariffs that allows customers to make money back if they generate their own renewable energy, while others offer tariffs which have cheaper pricing at night compared to the day.

Running appliances like dishwashers and washing machines on economy mode can also help cut bills.

Reducing boiler flow temperatures and upgrading to smart thermostats can also help save cash, as well as making sure your home is properly insulated.