National Grid activates plan to pay households to use less electricity between 5pm and 6pm - we explain eligibility

Millions of households will be paid up to £20 to turn off their appliances this evening amid electricity supply being tighter than normal

Two electricity pylons
(Image credit: Getty images)

Millions of households will be paid up to £20 to use less electricity on Monday and Tuesday evenings as National Grid activates its emergency scheme to avoid blackouts.

Households will need to cut their energy usage between 5pm and 6pm with actions such as switching off radiators, ovens, washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers, televisions and games consoles.

This evening will be the first time that the National Grid has run the "demand flexibility service" (DFS) officially to reduce pressure on the grid. 

The service aims to lower the UK’s energy usage at peak times and to help lower the risk of blackouts this winter. Twenty-six energy suppliers have signed up for the scheme including British Gas, EDF and Octopus Energy.

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While most households will receive only a couple of pounds for switching off, those making the biggest reductions could be paid as much as £20.

Gareth Kloet, energy spokesperson at Go.Compare, said: Whilst we understand the logic behind DFS, we would encourage all households to think carefully about energy use.

“Do a ‘standby check’ before leaving the house or going to bed, check windows are shut and doors locked, and look at whether devices are turned off or merely on standby. Making sure TVs, radios and the WiFi are turned off overnight can help relieve strain on energy supplies – as well as curbing energy use in the home and saving a little money.”

Who’s eligible for the demand flexibility service and how much could I get?

You need to be with an energy supplier that's signed up for the demand flexibility service (DFS). These include:

  • British Gas - Domestic
  • EDF - Domestic and Non-domestic
  • E.ON Next - Domestic
  • Octopus Energy - Domestic and Non-domestic
  • OVO Energy - Domestic
  • Shell Energy Retail (Via SMS) - Domestic
  • CarbonLaces - Domestic and Non-domestic
  • Conrad Energy - Non-domestic
  • CUB (UK) Ltd - Non-domestic
  • Drax - Non-domestic
  • ENGIE Power Limited - Non-domestic
  • Equiwatt - Domestic and Non-domestic
  • - Domestic
  • Flexitricity - Non-domestic
  • Grid Beyond - Non-domestic
  • Gridimp - Non-domestic
  • Hugo Energy App (via SMS) - Domestic
  • Labrador (via Perse Technology Ltd) - Domestic and Non-domestic
  • (via SMS) - Domestic
  • myenergi (via Orange Power) - Domestic
  • Oaktree Power - Non-domestic 
  • Pearlstone Energy - Non-domestic
  • Power Rewards App (via Orange Power) - Domestic
  • SMS - Domestic and Non-domestic
  • VpowerU - Domestic and Non-domestic
  • Zenobe Energy Limited - Non-domestic

You need to also have a smart meter that automatically sends half-hourly readings. (This will exclude you if you live in a high-rise flat, an old property with thick walls, or a rural home with poor signal and unable to get a smart meter installed.)

Your energy supplier will either invite you to sign up or allow you to apply to the DFS via their websites.

You’ll get an alert the day before each DFS event, informing you what time period you will need to reduce your energy in, for example between 5 pm and 6 pm today. You then must confirm you are taking part by text or email.

While customers could be paid up to £6 per kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy saved, the total saving varies from supplier to supplier - and your personal usage. 

For example, Octopus Energy has told participating customers that it will pay them £3.37 for every kilowatt-hour of power they avoid using between 5pm and 6pm.

Meanwhile, there is no penalty for not taking part in DFS.

Katie Binns

Katie is staff writer at The Money Edit. She was the former staff writer at The Times and The Sunday Times. Her experience includes writing about personal finance, culture, travel and interviews celebrities.  Her investigative work on financial abuse resulted in a number of mortgage prisoners being set free - and a nomination for the Best Personal Finance Story of the Year in the Headlinemoney awards 2021.