Households will once again be able to get paid for using energy outside peak times as the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) has been renewed for this winter.
The DFS is a scheme run by the National Grid and is meant to avoid electricity shortages by encouraging consumers to use power outside peak times – usually between 4pm and 7pm.
Customers could earn as much as £200 from taking part – though savings depend on their energy use and are just a fraction of the £1,834-a-year average energy bill.
The DFS was launched last winter and has been activated twice, on January 23 and 24, with around 20 trial runs too.
Time is money: Customers will be able to get cheaper energy bills by using power differently
Around 1.6million households and businesses took part in the DFS by the time it ended in March 2023.
Here is all you need to know about the DFS and how it will work this winter.
How does the Demand Flexibility Service work?
The idea is to reduce strain on the National Grid and avoid power cuts by paying consumers to use power outside peak times.
Consumers have to opt in to the scheme via their energy provider. Energy firms will then contact signed-up households ahead of a planned window of low energy use.
Customers that do cut energy use in that window then get rewarded in the form of money off their energy bills.
Another benefit is that, when there is a surge in electricity demand, that extra power is often created by burning extra fossil fuels – so using off-peak power can be good for the environment.
The National Grid decides when to activate the DFS. It wants to run 12 tests of the scheme this winter, aside from any need to activate it for real.
While both new and existing customers are eligible for the scheme, they will need a smart meter and will have to sign up to half hourly reads to take part.
All savings will appear as a credit on customers’ energy bills.
How much can I get paid for cutting my energy use?
This varies depending on your energy firm and how much electricity you manage to save in the allotted windows.
Last year Octopus predicted the average home would save up to £100 from the DFS. depending on energy usage. British Gas said customers could earn £200.
As a baseline, this year the National Grid ESO said it would pay energy firms £3 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for at least six of the 12 planned DFS tests.
How much of that is passed on to customers will vary.
For example, energy firm Ovo said its customers could earn up to £100 from the DFS by cutting energy use during peak times this winter.
The average dishwasher uses around 1kWh of electricity. So if a consumer chooses to run a one-hour washing machine cycle outside of a peak-time window, they could earn £3 from this alone.
Off-peak: Those who are able to use energy outside of the hours of 4pm and 7pm, for example later at night, could get money back on their energy bills
Last winter British Gas paid £6 per kWh of electricity shifted outside peak time, and said even customers saving smaller amounts of energy would earn at least £1 per event.
A British Gas spokesperson said it could not yet say how much customers could expect to be paid from taking part in the DFS this year.
British Gas also runs a PeakSave Sundays scheme that gives customers a 50 per cent discount on all electricity used between 11am and 4pm every Sunday.
Naomi Baker, senior policy manager at energy firm trade body Energy UK, said: ‘Energy UK welcomes back National Grid ESO’s DFS to support system margins this winter.
‘Last year 1.6 million households and businesses with smart meters participated, shifting demand and saving over 3,300MWh of electricity – enough to power around 10 million homes across Great Britain.’
National Grid ESO head of markets Claire Dykta said: ‘The ESO is delighted that Ofgem has formally approved the return of our Demand Flexibility Service this winter.
‘Households and businesses across Great Britain can now benefit from actively participating in helping balance the network during tight winter periods and be incentivised to do so.’
Which energy firms have signed up to the Demand Flexibility Service?
The following energy companies are part of the DFS scheme:
- Axle Energy
- British Gas
- E.on Next Energy
- Hildebrand Technology
- Hugo Energy App
- Octopus Energy
- Ovo Energy
- Perse Technology
- Power Rewards App
- Scottish Power
- Shell Energy Retail
- Utilita Energy
What if my energy company is not on the list?
If your energy firm is not signed up to the DFS, you can still take part in the scheme using the free app Utrack, owned by comparison website Uswitch.
The Utrack Money Back scheme allows anyone with a smart meter to take part.