Households could be paid to use appliances like washing machines overnight under new energy plans being drawn up.
Britain could face staged blackouts this winter, experts warn.
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System operators said an “unlikely” gas shortage could lead to planned three-hour power outages for families to protect energy supplies.
The newly launched ‘demand flexibility service’ would see households paid to use electricity outside of peak hours.
Households with a smart meter would receive a text message asking them to only use electricity when demand is lower, usually after 7 p.m.
In exchange, they would receive a payment.
The “Demand Flexibility Service” will operate from November to March. It should be implemented at least 12 times and should provide two gigawatts of energy savings.
The scheme is still under development.
What we know so far is that only devices that have been on for more than 30 minutes are eligible for a refund.
It’s also unclear how the rebate will work – for example whether consumers would recoup the full cost of energy used during fixed hours, or some of it.
Households are thought to potentially be online for around £10 a day.
Here is a likely list of appliances that may be eligible for refunds:
Washing machine – costs 37p on average if run for an hour
Slow cooker – 16p if used for one hour
Charging an electric car – £2.40 per hour
Fridge – 1p if run for one hour.
Oven – £1.04 per hour
Clothes dryer – 70.9p if run for an hour
ESO Director of General Affairs Jake Rigg said: “The demand flexibility service is a first of its kind and a smart way for registered consumers in homes and businesses to save money. and support Britain.
“If you turn on your washing machine or other electrical appliances at night instead of the early evening peak, you can get money back when we all need it.
“The service is due to launch in November, so watch out for more details soon. It really is a window into the future where a flexible energy system will be cleaner and cheaper than the alternatives.”
Large companies will be paid to reduce demand, for example by shifting their hours of energy consumption or by switching to batteries or generators at peak times.
However, if these measures fail and demand for electricity exceeds supply, households and businesses could see their electricity cut off for up to three hours at a stretch.
Officials stressed that customers would be informed in advance. Vital infrastructure such as hospitals would be excluded from the cuts.
The National Grid said there were two gigawatts of coal-fired power stations on standby, if needed to meet demand.
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