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Octopus Energy to offer free electricity to smart meter customers who can use less energy during peak hours

Octopus Energy will offer free electricity to its 1.4 million smart meter customers who can hit electricity reduction targets during peak hours. We've full info on who can get it and how to apply below.  

The offer is part of a trial run by Octopus Energy and National Grid Electricity System Operator (the body responsible for moving electricity through the national network) to encourage people to use less during peak hours, to reduce stress on the electricity grid. 

According to Octopus Energy, the trial – which is open to all its customers with smart meters – will set personalised electricity reduction targets for each customer within certain two-hour windows, typically between 40% and 60% of their average usage during these periods. 

If customers hit these targets, Octopus will give the electricity they do use during these two-hour windows to them for free.

Energy prices are at all-time highs right now, and are set to increase further after regulator Ofgem announced a 54% rise in the energy price cap from April. For help navigating this market, see Martin's latest video explainer. Or for more ways to save on bills, see our Energy saving tips guide. 

Who can get it and how to take part

The trial, which is set to run from Friday 11 February to Thursday 31 March, will be open to all of Octopus Energy's existing 1.4 million smart meter customers.

You may also be able to take part if you apply to have a smart meter installed now, or if you're a new customer – though as this may take a few weeks it's likely you won't be able to benefit in full as you'll miss the start of the scheme. 

Octopus has said it will email eligible customers over the coming days, inviting them to take part in the trial. 

How does it work? 

The two-hour periods are expected to be between midnight and 2am, 9am and 11am, and 4.30pm and 6.30pm – typically the hours when we use the most energy. However, only one of these time slots will be offered within a 24-hour period, and Octopus says it only expects between five and 10 two-hours slots to be available over the course of the trial, in total – so they're unlikely to be available every day.   

If an event is taking place, you'll be told which time slot it will be and your exact electricity reduction target at around 4pm the day before. 

You'll need to slash your usage by this amount, compared with your normal average electricity use during the set period. If you're successful, any electricity you do use during the period will be free – Octopus will apply credit to your bill to cover this. 

What does Octopus say?

Greg Jackson, CEO and founder of Octopus Energy Group, said: "UK households are currently suffering from huge energy bill increases caused by the global gas crisis. We speak to 30,000 customers a day and know first-hand how hard the situation is for many in this country.

"Octopus Energy has pioneered energy trials that put consumers in the driver's seat, allowing them to save money when energy is cheaper and greener. We are glad that National Grid ESO [Electricity System Operator] have now joined us in our efforts to build a smart grid that puts money back into people's pockets and drives the green energy revolution – and this trial is an incredibly important step to make it a reality."

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