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DFS Energy Scheme Update: Get Paid To Turn Off Your Electrical Items All Year Round!


A nationwide energy-saving scheme that pays households to use less energy at peak times over winter, meaning that you can be paid for turning off appliances in your home at specific times, is looking to be extended all year round. This means you could soon be able to cash in for not using your electricity throughout the year, not just during the winter!

Image credit: Unsplash/Arthur Lambillotte

The National Grid DFS Scheme is to be extended year round!

A nationwide energy-saving scheme that pays households to use less energy at peak times over winter, meaning that you can be paid for turning off appliances in your home at specific times, is looking to be extended all year round. This means you could soon be able to cash in for not using your electricity throughout the year, not just during the winter!


What is a DFS event?

Run by the National Grid, the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) scheme rewards households who reduce their energy consumption at peak times when energy demand is high to cut the pressure on the power grid and help prevent power cuts/blackouts.


This scheme normally runs over the winter months, which is usually a time when bad weather makes us more reliant on and use more electricity, which can put a real strain on energy-producing companies.


The proposed change to the DFS energy scheme in 2024

The proposed change, which will need to be signed off by the energy regulator, Ofgem, would mean that the financial incentive programme to save energy will become a year-round scheme and will reward its estimated 2.1 million users to continue to save money by limiting their energy use, throughout the year, which will help both the user by saving some extra cash on their energy bills, and the energy-producers from needing to produce as much energy from the more traditional fossil fuel energy production methods, with the potential to increase energy from more renewable sources such as wind-powered generators.



How long do the DFS events go on for?

Each of these tests will run for one hour, and during this time, participants in the scheme are encouraged to turn off as many appliances as they can in their homes to reduce the amount of energy the household uses.


How much can I earn?

As a thank you, the DFS will pay households £3 per kilowatt hour saved. The more energy you save, the more money you'll earn!


During the 2023 winter sessions, I saved 2 gigawatts of power, and I saved as much CO2 as 216,000 adult trees would absorb in a year, and that's after missing a couple of the sessions. I earned £18 in credit from DFS partner Octopus, which was added as a credit to my bill. If I'm honest, I was a bit rubbish and could have saved a lot more, so as long as you are committed to properly taking part in the scheme, you could earn some decent energy credit!



You need to be a household with a smart meter or a business site with half-hourly metering, to sign up, either your retail energy supplier or online providers/apps who are participating in the service or third-party providers as either money, prizes or bill credits.


Which energy providers are taking part?

Axle Energy Ltd British Gas Chameleon Technology (as Ivie) Easee UK Ltd (via Axle Energy Ltd) EDF E.ON Next Energy Ltd Equiwatt GivEnergy Software (via Axle Energy Ltd) 100 Green (via SMS – Solo Energy Ltd) Hildebrand Technology Ltd Hugo Energy App (via SMS - Solo Energy Ltd) Loop(via SMS - Solo Energy Ltd) Octopus Energy Ohme (via Axle Energy Ltd) OVO Energy Perse Technology Ltd Power Rewards App (via Orange Power Ltd) Scottish Power (via Equiwatt) SMS (Solo Energy Ltd) Shell Energy Retail via SMS (Solo Energy Ltd) Uswitch Ltd (via Hildebrand) Utilita Energy Ltd


You can only sign up for the DFS if you have a smart meter or an electronic device measuring electricity use. This is because the amount of energy you save during these hour-long events is worked out via your smart meter. The energy provider will take 60 days of your energy usage from your smart meter and use that information to work out how much energy you would use on an average day. The energy provider will use that figure as your baseline figure. By turning off your electrical equipment and saving energy, the energy provider will be able to work out the difference between what you would typically use in that hour and then see what you actually used during the DFS event. You'll then be rewarded for the amount saved.


For example, if you usually use 2KWh of energy and only use 1KWh of energy during that time, you'll be rewarded for your 1KWh energy saving. If you don't save any energy during that time, then you'll not earn anything for that event. If you use more energy than usual, which can happen if you have to use appliances during the event, you won't pay any more than usual; you just won't earn any money!


During the 2022 winter, £11 million in total was paid out to the 1.6 million participants in the scheme.


How will you know when to turn off appliances?

You'll be advised in advance that a DFS event is due to take place. This could be the day before or the same day, and you'll be given the event's start and finish time so you can plan what to turn off and when. This will either be via email, or if your energy provider has an app, you'll be sent a push notification to let you know when an event is due to start, when it's actually starting and when it just ended, so you know when to turn appliances off and on again.


You can turn off whatever electrical devices you want to make the energy saving. It makes sense to focus on the items that use the most power, such as TVs, fridges, freezers, ovens, dishwashers, washing machines, tumble dryers and, of course, lights! It doesn't mean you should sit in the dark twiddling your thumbs for an hour, although many people do enjoy lighting a candle and reading a book for some peace and quiet during this hour, but realistically, most people wouldn't do that, especially if they have children! I usually give my son my iPad so he can watch TV on that, rather than the big TV, so he's not moaning, but we're still saving energy!


Even turning off small appliances can make a difference, items such as game consoles use more electricity than you might think, taking the TV, DVD player etc off on standby will also make a saving and if you need a hot drink, only boil the exact amount of water you need.


You can see more energy-saving tips on the blog here.


Certain apps, such as Equiwatt, can talk to smart devices, such as smart power sockets and will automatically turn these smart plugs on and off for you, which is very handy.


Equiwatt

An app I've spoken about many times previously is Equiwatt. They are one of the partners of the DFS service, and you can use them to perform your DFS events. It is worth noting that you can only use one provider for your DFS events, so if, like me, you use Octopus as your energy provider and also make use of the Equiwatt service, you have to choose which service to register with for DFS events, as you can only use one! I've stuck with Octopus this year as it is easier for me as all my energy information is within the Octopus app, but if your energy provider isn't taking part in DFS events and you have a smart meter, then use Equiwatt as you don't then miss out of saving money.


Equiwatt awards you points for taking part in DFS events, plus extra events they run separately, called Equivents, which run throughout the year, not just in the winter, and you can trade those points in for the prizes below:


Once you have 1,000 points, you can cash them out for a gift card. 1,000 points is equal to a £10 gift card. You can earn gift cards from the following retailers (as of July 2023):


GlobalGiving - £10

World Land Trust - Plant 2 trees for 1,000 points or 5 trees for 2,500 points

National Trust - £10

Just Eat - £15

Tesco - £15

Habitat - £15

Costa - £15

Sainsbury's - £15

Asda - £15

Argos - £20

John Lewis - £20

Vintage Roots - £20

Finisterre - £25

Love2Shop - £30

Amazon - £30.


You can learn more about Equiwatt on the blog here.

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