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What are the National Grid electricity discounts – and are you eligible?

A smart energy meter, used to monitor gas and electricity use, at a home in London - TOLGA AKMEN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
A smart energy meter, used to monitor gas and electricity use, at a home in London - TOLGA AKMEN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Around a million households will be paid to reduce their electricity usage today as sub-zero temperatures ramp up pressure on the country’s energy supplies.

The emergency programme, called the Demand Flexibility Service, was trialled by National Grid last year, but this is the first time it has been deployed to avoid energy blackouts. National Grid is expected to pay more than £1m to households who cut their electricity usage today, but not all will be eligible.

When will the scheme take place?

The Demand Flexibility Service will run for 90 minutes between 4.30pm and 6pm today – early evenings on weekdays are peak times for electricity usage. Yesterday it ran for one hour.

Am I eligible and is it too late to apply?

The scheme requires households to have a second generation smart meter, because suppliers will need access to half-hourly readings. More than 20 energy suppliers are signed up to the scheme, although some of these only provide energy to non-domestic properties. Octopus Energy, British Gas and E.ON Next are included in the list of providers approved by National Grid to participate.

The deadline to apply for the scheme will depend on which energy supplier you are with. For example, Octopus Energy (which helped National Grid with its trials last year) will allow households to opt in for the scheme until 5pm today.

Octopus Energy told The Telegraph it had invited 1.5 million customers to participate in the scheme, of which 500,000 had already signed up. Your supplier should have already contacted you if you are eligible for the energy saving scheme.

What will the scheme require me to do?

The aim of the roll-out is to dramatically reduce energy usage during the one hour slot, but households will not be required to unpack the candles and sit in the dark. Rather, households will be expected to delay using energy intensive appliances until after 6pm. This could mean delaying cutting dinner or not running the washing machine or dishwasher during that hour, or waiting to charge an electric car until night-time.

How much will I be paid?

How much households can earn will depend on their supplier and how much power they would normally use. Some households will be able to earn up to £10 for the session, but most are likely to get back a few pounds.

During trials, suppliers were paid £3 per kilowatt-hour saved, but they are likely to get more outside of testing. Some are understood to have agreed  £6 per kilowatt hour for Monday evening.