British Gas, EDF and Octopus customers given cheapest times to use washing machine | Personal Finance | Finance

Energy giants are running variable charging tariffs that could save you a lot of money if you do your washing – or other households tasks – at the right time.

The new tariffs can help households identify sweet spot periods when it is cheapest to turn on household appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers.

At the same time, money saving expert Martin Lewis has highlighted how even cooking habits could be changed with financial advantages in carrying out batch cooking when power is at its cheapest.

The new variable tariffs are reliant on households having smart meters installed, which offer real time information to energy companies and users on their usage.

The new regime is designed to smooth out energy use and cut the need for the building of new power stations that are only needed to cover demand for a few peak hours each day.

In theory the saving on the need to build new power stations will be passed on to customers in the shape of lower bills.

Smoothing out energy usage has become increasingly important during the winter months and has been heralded by industry experts as key to avoiding blackouts.

Octopus Energy

The company, which sells green electricity from windfarms and solar panel, has the most sophisticated of these new charging regimes under its so-called Agile tariff.

Customers signed up to the scheme are sent an alert at the end of each day to provide details of the next day’s tariffs, identifying those hours when power will be cheapest.

And this world first tariff means that on some days – when there is an excess of green electricity – people are offered power free or charge or even paid to use their appliances or charge up an electric vehicle at home.

British Gas

The company offers the “Peak Save Sunday” scheme. It allows customers access to half price electricity on Sundays between 11am and 4pm.

The idea is that this encourages people to do their weekly shopping and, perhaps, charge the household EV during these hours.


The company offers customers incentives to shift their electricity usage away from peak hours (between 4pm and 7pm) to times when the grid has access to more green power.

Called the Power Move scheme, customers can be paid up to £10 per month for cutting down their electricity usage to 12.5 percent of their daily usage in peak periods.

This equates to around three dishwasher loads, or four loads of washing per week.

Its chief commercial officer, Mat Moakes, said: “We’re paying customers to move their energy use out of peak times, to times of day when the sun is shining, and the wind is blowing. This is all part of our commitment to help make our customers’ homes, as well as the energy system, greener.”


The company operates a “Beat the Peak”‘ scheme where customers can earn money by using less electricity when demand is high.

The firm sends out an email to eligible customers, confirming when to cut usage. Participants can earn up to £3 for every kwh of electricity that is reduced within the allocated time.

Leaving aside these specific schemes, all the major energy suppliers, including EON off cheaper power prices through the night under the Economy 7 brand.

EON suggested these schemes could offer customers electricity at 10p per kilowatt hour through the night, rather than an average of 20p during the day.

High energy prices have driven the cost of living crisis over the past three years and those looking to save money have made dramatic lifestyle changes to make their money go further.

People are using their ovens less, taking fewer baths and simply wrapping up warm rather than putting on the central heating.

The arrival of new tariffs that incentivise switching energy use away from the evening peak could lead to significant changes how people wash their clothes, do the dishes and cook family meals.

Martin Lewis stressed this week that people looking to save money through batch cooking should ensure they are signed up to one of those tariffs that offers cheap energy outside the peak.

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