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Off-peak times: When is electricity cheapest?

HOUSEHOLDS could save money by running their appliances at certain times.

Reducing energy costs is a priority for millions of households as the average annual gas and electricity bill has soared to £2,500 a year.

Some households can save money by running their appliances at certain times

Over three million households with multi-rate Economy 7 electricity meters already save by putting their washing machines and other devices on at night.

That means if you can switch your electricity use to night time hours, you could make savings.

But under new plans unveiled by the National Grid, households who are not on these tariffs could also benefit from reducing their usage in peak times.

The network operator has said households could save up to £100 through its Demand Flexibility Service.

But it’s important to remember that putting your appliances on at night comes with an added risk of fire.

The charity Electrical Safety First has said that it is essential households mitigate the risk of fire if they choose to leave their appliances on at night.

This is because if you do run your appliances at night, you are less likely to notice if something goes wrong – particularly if they catch fire.

Below, we explain how economy tariffs work and how the new Demand Flexibility Service could help you to save money.

What are economy tariffs?

Economy tariffs charge different rates for electricity during the day compared to the night time.

If you use more electricity at night than you do during the day, you can make big savings by switching to an Economy 7 electricity tariff – some have saved up to £120 a year.

If you have a multi-rate meter, you’ll get seven hours at the lower rate.

This is usually somewhere between 11pm and 8am but this will vary depending on your supplier and where you live.

Check with your supplier exactly which hours will be charged at the lower rate before you switch.

These tariffs offer customers cheaper energy at night, but the day time rate is usually higher than average – meaning you could end up spending more if you use your appliances during peak hours.

That means if you can switch your electricity use to night time hours, you could make savings.

It won’t work for everyone, as some people won’t be able to shift enough of their electricity use to the cheaper hours.

What is the National Grid’s Demand Flexibility Service?

Energy watchdog Ofgem has approved proposals for National Grid electricity system operator (ESO) to launch the programme, called a Demand Flexibility Service.

It will run from November until March and households could save up to £100 through the limited scheme.

The saving is based on households receiving £3 for every kilowatt-hour during 12 test demonstrations.

The tests are being planned to see how customers respond – but only households with smart meters will be able to take part.

There could also be several extra days where the grid asks households to shift their use.

It comes a month after the operator warned in its winter outlook that the first planned blackouts in decades might hit parts of the country this winter if power plants cannot get enough gas to keep running.

Octopus Energy estimates that the system might be used around 13 times this winter to prevent shortages of energy on the grid.

So far around 350,000 of the company’s customers have signed up to the scheme.

Ovo Energy has launched a smaller scheme that is not linked to National Grid’s, but offers similar benefits.

The Sun has put together a full list of energy suppliers that will pay up to £100 with new National Grid scheme.

How else can I cut my energy bills?

You could slash your energy bills by 7% a year if you flush out any sludge in your central heating system.

If you turn your boiler’s flow temperature down as well as any thermostatic radiator valves in some rooms – you could save around £180 annually on your energy bills.

Topping up loft insulation and switching to a smart meter can bring a household a further £230 worth of annual savings, according to Nesta.

It is also important to ensure that when your boiler’s running that there’s no draught.

Ventilation is good for health and air quality but it’s the first place where heat will escape.

If there’s a draught, grab a draught excluder and plug the gap. You should also ensure your windows are closed before the sun sets.

It’s also worth closing your curtains before it gets dark as the heat will then stay inside your home.

Another great way to ensure you save money is to turn off your boiler when you’re not using the water.

Most boilers or thermostats have a setting to allow you to schedule when the heating turns on and off.

Consider what rooms in your home need heating. You won’t be using each one 24/7 so make sure the heating is off in any rooms that aren’t occupied.

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