National Grid to pay households to use less electricity as cold weather triggers Demand Flexibility Service

The National Grid ESO is running a live event of its Demand Flexibility Service on Monday

Households across the UK could be rewarded for cutting their energy use during peak-times on Monday as the cold snap continues.

The National Grid ESO (electricity system operator) is, for the first time, activating a live “demand flexibility service”, which allows it to access additional flexibility when national demand is at its highest during peak winter days.

It means that some households with smart meters will be entitled to discounts if they cut their electricity use between 5pm and 6pm today (23 January).

The National Grid ESO is activating its Demand Flexibility Service (Photo: Adobe)

The scheme is administered by energy suppliers and households have to register their interest in taking part in advance. Those who sign up will then get a text or other message saying that the programme will run later in the day.

If they use less electricity than they normally do during the allotted hours they will be paid for the savings. Households can still use electricity during peak hours and will not be punished if the same amount, or more, electricity is used than usual during that period.

Signing up for the scheme does not give the grid the right to shut off supply to homes and you will still have total control over your electricity use.

The scheme is due to stay in place until March, with 26 energy suppliers including Octopus Energy and EDF signed up to it, but up until now it has only been used in tests.

National Grid ESO added that its announcement should not be interpreted as a sign that electricity supplies are at risk and said “people should not be worried”.

In a tweet, it said: “These are precautionary measures to maintain the buffer of spare capacity we need.”

It has also asked for three UK coal plants - two at Drax’s site in North Yorkshire and one at West Burton in Nottinghamshire - to begin warming up in case they are needed for the country’s energy supply amid the cold weather.

National Grid ESO said it had given the instructions in light of forecasts showing electricity supply margins may be tighter than normal on Monday.

A spokesperson added: "Our forecasts show electricity supply margins are expected to be tighter than normal on Monday evening.

“We have instructed coal-fired power units to be available to increase electricity supplies should it be needed…”