Looking to cut costs and reduce your carbon footprint? Octopus Energy, an electricity supplier in the UK, decided to pay their customers to use less power at peak times. What happened?
Read on to find out more about what happened when Octopus Energy started their free saving campaign, plus some tips and tools you can use in your own home to reduce energy consumption during peak hours.
While the UK’s energy supply is slowly but surely turning green, this change does present some challenges. Renewable energy gives us access to tremendous power, but this power can be unavailable at certain times.
Much like the saying making hay while the sun shines, we need a system that is able to utilise all green electrons. The people involved in the task are essential.
And that’s why Octopus Energy chose to test the UK’s largest ever dynamic demand shift: the ‘Big Dirty Turn Down’. paying about 100,000 homes to switch their electricity during peak times. You would not need to spend a great deal on a generator in order to power your household, since you could have people trade a little of their excess energy.
So, what happened; you’re asking?
What was the test?
Octopus Energy stated that they looked at both sides of this argument, which argues that flexibility is important. A successful initiative called The Big Dirty Turndown – in partnership with National Grid ESO – asks for a reduction in usage by customers.
A text message notification would be sent a day in advance, letting the customer know of the two hour window in which they should expect the offer. Each customer would have their own data plan, custom tailored to suit their average usage pattern.
If participants successfully showed up, they would get two hours of free electricity.
Together the individual prizes may have seemed small, but in our larger trial we’ve seen the power of collective action. Plus, if you’ve seen how small incentives can cause big behavioural changes; the anti-plastic bag measure.
The result – We got rid of peaks
Over the course of the turn-down trials, two-thirds of households reduced their consumption by at least 30% during at least one evening peak period with National Grid ESO alone; 197MWh of power was shifted out of peak demand periods.
A flexible energy system like this saves average households 23p per two-hour period, although some households save as much as £4.35 per hour with this system.
A greener future
Furthermore, the trials show customers are interested in a greener future, and not just from an environmental perspective. So those who don’t choose to take part stand to gain from both the obvious financial rewards and lower fixed bills for everyone.
Octopus Energy’s analysis of the trial estimates the UK could have 1.9GW of domestic power available during the early evening, which is equal to Hornsea – currently the largest offshore wind farm in the country.
If current demand growth for heat pumps and electric cars continues, by 2030 we could have 7.8GW of energy capacity at the top of our estimates. That’s almost twice the capacity of Drax Power Station in the United Kingdom which has 3.9GW.
Octopus Energy also stated that there are other ways to double that amount:
- Higher customer incentives for shifting power use,
- Unlocking more commercial and industrial flexibility,
- Increasing the numbers of customers on smart tariffs like Intelligent Octopus.
Octopus Energy said “energy providers typically struggle to engage with customers, even with exciting technological topics like smart meters and demand control”.
However, subjects such as these are imperative to enabling a quicker and cheaper transition to a renewable energy grid.
With National Grid and Scottish Power, they found that though individual rewards are small, customers are willing to join together to make change happen; reinforcing the electric grid and preventing renewable energy from being wasted.
They only had to ask one simple question:
Would you like to help?
Extra tips to reduce energy usage at peak times…
Here at SwitchedOn we have highlighted some tips to conserve energy during peak times. No matter who you are; a homeowner, private renter, a student, or someone who lives with parents, there are many things you can do. We are all accountable for the energy we use at home. Look at these quick tips to see how you can start saving:
Switch off standby
You can save around £55 a year just by remembering to turn your appliances off standby mode. Almost all electrical appliances can be turned off at the plug without upsetting their programming.
Draught-proof windows and doors
Unless your home is very new, you will lose some heat through draughts around doors and windows, gaps around the floor, or through the chimney. Professional draught-proofing of windows, doors and blocking cracks in floors and skirting boards can cost around £225, but can save around £45 a year on energy bills.
Turn off lights
Turn your lights off when you’re not using them or when you leave a room. This will save you around £20 a year on your annual energy bills.
Careful with your washing
You can save around £28 a year from your energy bill just by using your washing machine more carefully: Use your washing machine on a 30-degree cycle instead of higher temperatures.
Avoid the tumble dryer
Avoiding using a tumble dryer for your clothes: dry clothes on racks inside where possible or outside in warmer weather to save £60 a year.
Spend less time in the shower
Keeping your shower time to just 4 minutes could save a typical household £70 a year on their energy bills.
Swap your bath for a shower
Some of us might enjoy a long soak in the bath, but swapping just one bath a week with a 4-minute shower could save you £12 a year on your energy bills.
Be savvy in the kitchen
Kettles are one of the most used appliances in the kitchen. But many of us will admit that we at least occasionally boil the kettle with more water than we’re going to use.
Fill your dishwasher
Only run your dishwasher when it is full to reduce the amount of water you use. Reducing your dishwasher use by one run per week for a year could save you £14.
Top up the insulation
Effective insulation of your hot water cylinder is important, even if you have thin spray foam or a loose 25mm jacket, you can benefit from increasing the insulation to a British Standard Jacket 80mm thick, saving £35 a year in the process.
Want to know more?
You can find the full report ‘here’ from Octopus Energy