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    What is the National Grid energy-saving scheme and why has the UK started it?

    January 27, 2023 - Jessica Knibbs and Beril Naz Hassan


      National Grid on January 26 asked coal-fired power plants to be warmed up as a back-up option as cold weather is expected to push up demand.

      “The ESO has issued a notification that we will warm winter contingency coal units for potential use on Thursday 26 January,” National Grid’s electricity system operator (ESO) said on Twitter. “This notification is not confirmation that these units will be used on Thursday, but that they will be available to the ESO, if required.”

      The decision comes after National Grid’s new incentive scheme began on Monday, January 23. This rewarded many households with a smart meter that switched off their heating between 5pm and 6pm.

      The big switch-off is a part of the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) and aims to help to prevent the nation’s supply from being overused.

      Here’s all you need to know about the National Grid scheme how you can cut energy costs.

      What is the National Grid scheme?

      This is an initiative to pay households to use less electricity, with coal-fired power generators being put on standby ready to generate if necessary.

      The scheme allows households with smart meters, who are already signed up for the initiative, to be offered discounts when reducing their energy consumption.

      How can I save money on energy?

      About 26 energy suppliers are part of the National Grid scheme, including EDF and Octopus Energy, which runs until March.

      Your energy supplier should have notified you by January 22 if it is taking part.

      You must have a smart meter, though, as the grid needs to monitor your energy every 30 minutes.

      The “energy-saving sessions” will only last for around an hour. These will require people to reduce their normal energy consumption by about 30 per cent.

      Roughly £3 is saved for every unit or kilowatt hour (kWH) saved. This is worked out by comparing consumers’ usage against their usual demand.

      National Grid said savings could range from a few pounds to as much as £20, depending on the amount of energy used.

      Polar-vortex warning

      Fog and extremely cold temperatures have contributed to the National Grid scheme being introduced. However, many weather experts are also worried about a polar vortex from February 3. As the name suggests, this is when air from the North Pole escapes towards Europe.

      The weather phenomenon was last seen when the Beast from the East hit Britain in 2018, which caused heavy snowfall amid unusually low temperatures.

      Experts have warned of increasing cold weather and heavy snowfall in February potentially causing an “Arctic blast”.

      “Computer models are suggesting that a weakening of the Stratospheric Polar Vortex (SPV) in the coming weeks could lead to an increasing chance of cold weather during February,” Brian Gaze, from the Weather Outlook, told the Express.

      “It’s a long way off in weather terms but the period around Valentine’s Day has, in the past, often brought the UK some of its coldest and most wintry spells of weather.

      “A weakening SPV leads to an increasing chance of a very cold Arctic Blast or a Beast From The East weather pattern, like the one we saw in February 2018.”


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