The National Grid will pay householders as much as £6 per kWh to leave their washing machines and games consoles off at peak hours
The UK’s National Grid will offer rebates to consumers who avoid using appliances like washing machines, cookers and games consoles during the evenings, several media outlets reported on Monday. Despite coming at a time of rising bills and the threat of blackouts, the service insists it’s “not about rationing.”
The scheme will see households with smart meters offered up to £6 ($7) per kilowatt hour to leave these appliances off during 5pm and 8pm, Express reported. The average washing machine uses between 400 and 1,400 watts of energy per hour, meaning a 1,000 watt machine running for an hour would use 1kWh, possibly entitling its owner to a £6 rebate.
The National Grid, which operates the UK’s electricity infrastructure, will reveal further details about the scheme in the coming weeks, following consultations with the UK’s energy regulator, Ofgem. According to reports, the National Grid wants the scheme in place by October, when the energy price cap is set to be lifted again, potentially bringing annual bills up to £3,576.
Further increases in the price cap could bring bills up to £6,000 (nearly $7,100) by April 2023.
Combined with an inflation rate that’s predicted to hit 18% next year, Britain’s energy crisis could see millions of people unable to afford either food or heating, London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned on Saturday.
Nevertheless, a National Grid spokesman told Express that the rebate scheme was “definitely not about people sitting in the dark, or volunteering to be cold. It is about doing the washing at a different time of day, that sort of stuff.”
When the plan was first reported earlier this summer, the energy corporation told a similar story, assuring the BBC that it is “not about energy rationing.”
Regardless, British officials are reportedly preparing for a “reasonable worst-case scenario” in which gas and power supplies could be interrupted in January.
While food and energy prices have ticked steadily upwards since the end of the coronavirus pandemic brought an upsurge in demand, fuel prices in particular spiked in the months after the UK voluntarily cut itself off from imports of Russian oil and gas in response to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.
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