Although the government’s new price freeze has meant energy bills aren’t rising as rapidly as originally feared, they’re certainly still higher than any of us would like – so anything opportunities to claw back a little money are welcome.
While using less gas and electricity is always going to be a fool proof way to make the bills go down, reducing your electricity could also help you earn cashback (or discounts on your bill) thanks to a new energy scheme launching this winter.
Designed as part of the National Grid’s efforts to avoid potential energy blackouts, the idea is that these discounts will be offered to households that cut down their energy usage during peak times on designated days.
The specific details of the scheme will vary depending on which supplier you are with. For instance, Octopus have already started asking customers to sign up to a points system. Eligible households will then receive alerts telling them when the days/times will be, and earn points in exchange for the difference between their usual usage and usage on the day. Those points could be redeemed for a reduction in bills or for rewards. While other providers are yet to announce the details of their schemes, it’s believed that the majority of major companies should be taking part.
So is there a catch? Well, you will only be able to participate if you have a smart meter, as this is how the energy companies will monitor your usage. If you don’t have a smart meter already, your energy company should offer to install one for free. While it’s not mandatory, it is recommended as a more reliable way to ensure that you are billed correctly.
You will also only receive 24-hour notice before the energy reduction times and they’re likely to be during prime evening slots (e.g. 4-7pm), so you need to be prepared to adjust your schedule if you want to max out reductions. Some options could include delaying cooking your meal or using other appliances such as the washing machine/tumble dryer, finding alternative evening entertainment that doesn’t involve switching on the TV or games console and stocking up on blankets so you can turn down the heating. If any of these tricks work for you, you could also use them on other days to make sure you’re paying for fewer units of energy.
At the moment this is only a trial scheme, and there are expected to be 12 test days between now and March. If it works to bring down the country’s energy usage during peak periods then it is likely to be continued into next year and even become a regular part of our energy reduction efforts.
Aside from putting money back in people’s pockets, there is an obvious environmental benefit to encouraging people to cut down. Of course, in many cases people will be delaying their electricity use rather than cancelling it all together, but encouraging people to adopt a mindset of using less is still a positive step.