How to get paid £20 for not using your washing machine TONIGHT - National Grid activates emergency winter plan to save Britain from running out of energy

Three UK coal plants have been ordered to begin warming up in case they are needed

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Households and businesses across the UK are being told to cut back their electricity usage tonight between 5pm and 6pm in a bid to prevent future blackouts, despite temperatures plummeting to as low as -2 in some areas.

Three UK coal plants have been ordered to begin warming up in case they are needed for the country’s energy supply as the cold snap bites.

National Grid ESO said it had given the instructions in light of forecasts showing electricity supply margins may be tighter than normal on Monday.

It added it was also activating a live “demand flexibility service” – which allows the ESO to access additional flexibility when national demand is at its highest during peak winter days – between 5-6pm on Monday.

The scheme entitles some households with smart meters to discounts if they cut their use of electricity.

It is due to stay in place until March, with 26 energy suppliers including Octopus Energy and EDF signed up to it, but until now has only been used in tests.

Customers that use smart meters will be able to take part in the scheme. 26 energy suppliers are involved, and customers will either be contacted directly inviting them to sign up or they can choose to do so online.

The day before the event takes place, customers will be notified alerting them to the window they need to reduce energy use (for example 5pm-6pm).

Then the customer must reply to confirm they are taking part, either by e-mail or text.

If you use less energy during the timeframe it will save money on your bill, and earn a credit of up to £20 per day.

A full list of suppliers taking part can be found at the bottom on this page.

However, the scheme was attacked by GB News host Eamonn Holmes, who claimed “it’s got gimmick stamped all over it”.

National Grid ESO added that its announcement should not be interpreted as a sign that electricity supplies are at risk and said “people should not be worried”.

“These are precautionary measures to maintain the buffer of spare capacity we need,” National Grid said in a tweet.

The cold weather means more people are heating their homes which increases demand for energy, but a lack of wind has reduced the amount of renewable energy available.

In December, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden said will be no blackouts this winter unless Britain suffers a major external shock to its power supply.

There have been fears of pressure on the electricity grid if imports from Europe dry up amid a squeeze on global energy supplies, with potential for the first planned outages in decades during the colder months.

In what it called an “unlikely” scenario, the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) said in October that households and businesses might be deprived of power for short periods to prevent a collapse.

Speaking to Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster on GB News, supply chain expert and Director of Export Unlocked, Richard Bartlett, criticised the National Grid for the suggestion.

“It’s very unusual, in 2023, that we’re having these situations. It’s just one thing after the other.

“To switch your heating off when it’s minus-one at the moment is beyond a joke.”

He added: “The savings that it’s going to amount to doesn’t seem really worth the amount of work that’s involved.”

The 26 suppliers taking part are:

· British Gas - Domestic

· CarbonLaces - Domestic and Non-domestic

· Conrad Energy - Non-domestic

· CUB (UK) Ltd - Non-domestic

· Drax - Non-domestic

· EDF - Domestic and Non-domestic

· ENGIE Power Limited - Non-domestic

· E.ON Next - Domestic

· Equiwatt - Domestic and Non-domestic

· ev.energy - Domestic

· Flexitricity - Non-domestic

· Grid Beyond - Non-domestic

· Gridimp - Non-domestic

· Hugo Energy App (via SMS) - Domestic

· Labrador (via Perse Technology Ltd) - Domestic and Non-domestic

· Loop.homes (via SMS) - Domestic

· myenergi (via Orange Power) - Domestic

· Oaktree Power - Non-domestic

· Octopus Energy - Domestic and Non-domestic

· OVO Energy - Domestic

· Pearlstone Energy - Non-domestic

· Power Rewards App (via Orange Power) - Domestic

· Shell Energy Retail (Via SMS) - Domestic

· SMS - Domestic and Non-domestic

· VpowerU - Domestic and Non-domestic

· Zenobe Energy Limited - Non-domestic