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How to get paid for using less energy tonight

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

The National Grid is running its first ‘live event’ under its Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) this evening as the UK’s energy supplies run low.

The National Grid said previously that such an initiative would only be implemented in a worst-case scenario, and so today’s announcement serves as a stark warning as to the reality of the UK’s current energy supply.

Under the scheme, Brits will be paid to switch off their energy at peak times with the aim of avoiding power blackouts. The National Grid tells energy suppliers when they can trigger the DFS and suppliers then contact customers asking them if they want to take part.

The DFS was previously poised for activation on 29 November, then cancelled as the National Grid secured more energy to fulfill demand. Now, as falling temperatures put pressure on the UK’s energy supply, the scheme will be activated for the first time between 5pm and 6pm tonight.

But not everyone can take part in tonight’s event. You need a smart meter and to be a customer of one of the 26 suppliers which are taking part. 

However, not all customers of these suppliers can take part today – some suppliers are only offering the DFS to certain customers. Each energy provider has its own eligibility criteria to take part in the scheme and how much you can earn will vary.

Those who can take part don’t have to do anything today – they will be contacted by their supplier about tonight’s event.

How much cash you can save varies between suppliers, but it’s about £3 for every unit of energy saved and you’ll need to reduce your energy consumption by about 30% from your normal amount to qualify.

A short-term solution

Gareth Kloet, energy spokesperson at Go.Compare, said: “Go.Compare has consistently advocated for a long-term solution to the UK’s energy supply issues, and while measures like the DFS scheme may help prevent rolling blackouts in the short term, they do not address the wider issue. We would call on the government to urgently address the UK’s energy security, and act now to help British homeowners – who have faced record-breaking energy bills, and now face the additional worry of potential blackouts during the coldest part of the year.

“Whilst we understand the logic behind DFS, we would encourage all households to think carefully about energy use and ways to reduce it especially during peak times.  

“In addition to using less during peak times of the day, we would encourage all UK householders to perform a ‘standby check’ before leaving the house or going to bed: as well as checking windows are shut and doors locked, look at whether devices are turned off or merely on standby. Making sure TVs, radios and the WiFi are turned off overnight can help relieve strain on energy supplies – as well as curbing energy use in the home and saving a little money.”

The CEO of National Grid John Pettigrew warned in October that households may face blackouts this winter if energy stocks run low.

If this were to happen, gas would be cut off during the peak hours of 4pm to 7pm. However, Pettigrew said this would only be a “last case scenario”, if generators fail to secure enough gas from Europe to meet demand.

Energy bills for UK households have soared in the past year due to a rise in demand and an increase in wholesale prices because of the war in Ukraine.