British Gas confirms it will pay customers to run washing machines at night through new scheme

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Customers will be asked to reduce electricity use between peak hours

British Gas has confirmed it will pay customers to use electricity outside of peak hours this winter.

The new scheme means that households will get money back for using appliances at night, such as dishwashers, washing machines and ovens.

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Customers will be able to opt into the scheme if they wish and those who do will be asked to reduce their electricity use by around 30% between certain hours of the day, most likely between 4pm and 7pm, although final details are yet to be announced. British Gas is yet to confirm how much customers will get paid to cut their energy use, but MoneySavingExpert says its trial scheme will launch “later this year”.

Customers will be asked to cut their electricity use by around 30% between certain hours (Photo: Adobe)Customers will be asked to cut their electricity use by around 30% between certain hours (Photo: Adobe)
Customers will be asked to cut their electricity use by around 30% between certain hours (Photo: Adobe) | Atlas - stock.adobe.com

It comes after the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) confirmed it is encouraging energy suppliers to sign up to a new “demand flexibility” scheme this winter which has been designed to help ease the pressure on power networks as the UK braces for potential blackouts.

The ESO has said those who switch their power usage away from high demand times will get £3 per kilowatt hour, up from the previously announced 52p. The energy discount scheme could result in savings of £100 this winter.

Writing in The Guardian, Fintan Slye, director of the National Grid’s electricity system operation, said: “Businesses and homes can become virtual power plants and, crucially, get paid like one too.

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“For a consumer that could mean a typical household could save approximately £100, and industrial and commercial businesses with larger energy usage could save multiples of this.

“We are working with Ofgem to get this scheme launched in November and for it to be rolled out through energy suppliers. If you are interested in participating or understanding what you could get paid, please contact your energy supplier.”

The money-back service is to be implemented by energy suppliers and monitored using a smart meter. It is a voluntary scheme and is scheduled to run from November to March to help prevent winter blackouts.

The ESO says that it needs half-hourly data from households to run the scheme, but if your supplier can figure out a different way to get data on your use every half an hour then you might still be able to sign up.

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Octopus Energy, who piloted the ESO scheme earlier this year, was the first supplier to officially sign up to the new initiative and expects to pay customers £4 on average during peak times between November and March through its Saving Sessions service. The energy firm said this will add up to £100 over winter if a customer cuts their electricity use by 1kWh once or twice a week, up to around 25 times in total.

Ovo Energy is also running its own version of the scheme, separate to the one being run by the ESO, and will reward customers who cut their energy use by 12.5% between 4pm and 7pm with £20 each month. The new Power Move trial will run from November to March, meaning OVO households can also earn up to £100.

MoneySavingExpert reports that the British Gas scheme is being run together with the ESO.

It is down to each energy supplier to decide whether they sign up to run the ESO scheme, or their own, and how the money is paid will depend on the supplier. Some may issue vouchers, others might return cash to you, and many will likely just cut the amount from your energy bill.

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Without such schemes, there could be cold and still days creating high demand and low levels of wind power, meaning there may be a need to interrupt supply to some customers for limited periods, National Grid ESO’s winter outlook said.

The ESO also warned that if there is not enough gas to keep the country’s power stations going in January it could force distributors to cut off electricity to households and businesses for three-hour blocks during the day.

Any plans for scheduled power cuts will need to be approved by the government and King Charles before it could come into fruition.

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