Image credit: Unsplash/Arthur Lambillotte
Quick Links: ▶︎ What is a DFS event? ▶︎ How long do the DFS events go on for? ▶︎ How much can I earn? ▶︎ Which energy providers are taking part? ▶︎ How will you know when to turn off appliances? ▶︎ Equiwatt
The National Grid DFS Scheme Is back for the winter from November 2023
A nationwide energy-saving scheme that will pay households to use less energy at peak times will start in November 2023, and it means that you can be paid for turning off appliances in your home at specific times this 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.
To ensure that there are rewards for participating households and businesses, even if the service is not needed to manage the electricity system in real-time this winter, the National Grid (ESO) will run 12 tests between 1st November and 31st March 2024.
Should there be any particular strain on the power grid due to bad weather, for example, there may be more than 12 events that take place; 12 events are the minimum number of events that will take place over the winter.
The idea is to prevent the need to power up older-style coal-fuelled power stations that are much worse for the environment and also costly to run. The coal stations were warmed up in March and used to help keep the lights on during a cold snap. This year, the National Grid does not have access to these coal-fired stations as they are being decommissioned, and there is only one expected to be operational but not expected to be able to be used by the National Grid.
Last year, a lack of gas supply due to the Ukraine war caused the energy deficit; this year, enough energy is expected to be available to cope with demand, even if winter is particularly cold.
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 for the first six tests and will confirm what the following six tests will pay at a later date. The more energy you save, the more money you'll earn!
These payments will then be passed on to the participants via their energy company. If you are a household with a smart meter or a business site with half-hourly metering, you’ll be able 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 have taken 60 days of your energy usage from your smart meter and used that information to work out how much energy you would use on an average day and 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 during that time and only use 1KWh of energy, you'll be rewarded on 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!
Last 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 sitting enjoying a book or 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.
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 then 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.