Octopus Energy has said that some of its customers earned up to £8.75 in credits for switching up their energy use on Monday evening and helping reduce the strain on the power grid.
The energy supplier said that more than 400,000 customers took part in the challenge between 5-6pm on Monday.
The average customer was awarded between £1.25 and £2.50 in special points which entitle them to rewards, reducing their demand by around 60% on average.
Together these customers reduced demand by around 200 megawatt hours (MWh), about the same amount of energy as Bristol uses during an hour.
The company is the most active in the new scheme, which pays customers to switch off appliances.
Octopus customers rolling into tonight's #SavingSessions like...
— Octopus Energy (@OctopusEnergy) January 23, 2023
The so-called Demand Flexibility Service was launched by National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) to help reduce peak demand during times where supplies are tighter than usual.
Octopus customers – who had to opt in to take part – were paid £3.37 per unit of electricity they reduced during the period.
Several other energy suppliers took part in the system, which went live for the first time on Monday evening. It had been tested on several occasions previously.
The grid also called another saving session for Tuesday evening, when customers look able to save even more money.
The Tuesday session lasts for 1.5 hours, between 4.30-6pm, and customers with several suppliers will be paid more per unit than they did the day before.
Octopus said that it would pay £4 for every unit of electricity that households reduce their usage by on Tuesday.
Octopus said the top 5% of customers were paid £8.75 in points during Monday’s session.
By asking households to help out by using electricity at slightly different times to usual, the grid does not have to pay very expensive power plants to come online and produce more power.
The households who take part in these sessions can still use as much electricity as normal, but by doing it an hour later, or an hour earlier they can help out, and save.
Experts see it as the first step towards a system where smart technology in people’s homes helps to switch usage to off-peak times, saving households money and taking pressure off the grid.
This could help solve what is perhaps the main downside of wind and solar power: that the wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine.
Jo-Jo Hubbard, the chief executive of energy company Electron, said: “It’s great to see signals going out and consumers adjusting energy consumption.
“National initiatives like this are a great step forwards on our path to net zero, but we’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible.
“By moving to a local approach for flexibility, we can start incentivising customers to adjust their consumption based not just on when they use it, but where – and getting paid real value for it.
“By doing this, we can start making much more efficient use of our grid, and stop relying as heavily on peaking, polluting generators.”