Personal Finance

Energy saving deals to return over fears of winter blackouts

Discount energy offers to cut peak usage will return this winter in a bid to prevent blackouts.

National Grid ESO said it forecast average electricity supply levels this winter but wanted to take preventative action in the face of continuing tensions with Russia.

It will resume its Demand Flexibility Service, which pays people to use less electricity at peak times when capacity is low, after it was first introduced last November. However, the discount is only available to smart meter customers.

National Grid said its "tight days" were likely to be in January.

This is similar to last winter which saw the DFS first activated in January.

National Grid said capacity was forecast to be slightly better this winter compared to last. Its margin - the difference between supply and demand - would be 4.8 gigawatts. Although this is broadly in line with recent winters it doesn't take into account the abnormal market conditions.

A National Grid ESO spokesman said: "There will be cold snaps in the winter and therefore we do expect to use our normal operational tools."

A total of 1.6 million households and businesses took part in the scheme during 22 "events" last winter.

People were asked to avoid high-usage activities such as using washing machines, dishwashers or cooking during a one-hour period. The amount of energy saved was enough to power 10 million homes.

Energy suppliers - 31 of which took part - could decide whether to hand out the savings as cash or for money off gas and electricity bills. It's not yet known how much participants have saved, but it was estimated last year participants could save up to £100 over the five month period the scheme was live. National Grid hopes to improve the service this year.

Customers in England’s south, east and East Midlands reduced demand the most, it said.

When the scheme is active, National Grid requires participants to reduce their energy usage by about 30%.

The grid compares your energy usage in 30-minute increments to your normal levels. Those participating will receive about £3 for every unit of electricity (kilo-watt hour) saved.

Gas powers 40 percent of the UK's electricity production, and so shortages of gas go hand in hand with electricity supply.

The UK also imports electricity from the rest of Europe which is facing its own shortages.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year disrupted gas supplies to Europe as Putin turned off access to its export pipelines in retaliation to sanctions. Prior to the invasion, the EU relied on Russia for 45 percent of its gas imports.

The UK was far less reliant, with only 4 percent of gas imports coming from Russia (and 9 percent of its imported oil and 27 percent of coal) and now does not import any fuel from the country.

However, the UK has still been highly impacted as shortages in Europe saw wholesale gas and oil prices increase sharply, pushing up the cost of electricity, gas and oil. They are likely to remain high as European countries look for other sources of energy.

Read more:

Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.


NimbleFins Newsletter

Get energy alerts, deals, tips, news, and more!