The top 10 ways households cut their energy use to earn rewards – and which firms paid the most
In a major survey of 3,000 people, MoneySavingExpert.com today reveals which firms paid customers the most to cut their energy use during peak times last winter, and how people did it. Crucially, despite most saying they earned less than £20 in total for their efforts – only 21% earned more than £20 with top payer Octopus – the majority WOULD sign up again.
Here are the key stats from our survey:
- 78% would sign up again next winter. Even among those who earned less than £5 in total, almost six in 10 (59%) said they would sign up again. See what MoneySavers said.
- 'Not cooking' was the single most common step people took. More than four in five (84%) said they didn't cook during the specified use-cutting periods. See top 10 ways people cut back.
- Payouts were modest. One in three (34%) said they earned less than £5 overall, with only 16% getting more than £20 and just 3% earning over £50.
- Octopus Energy was the top payer with 21% earning over £20. This contrasts with just 5% at E.on Next, the lowest payer in our survey. See firm-by-firm earnings.
Want to take part in this winter's schemes? See our Get paid to cut your energy use guide for what you need to know and how to get started. And if you're looking for ways to reduce your electricity (and gas) usage, see our Energy-saving tips guide.
Martin: 'People want to help out and cut energy use at key times, but they could be paid more to do it'
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "The operator National Grid ESO and energy retailers are playing a clever bit of behavioural economics here to help smooth out the energy demand curve at crucial times. While of course, people always save money when they cut usage, that is a rather nebulous concept. Yet paying people to cut usage is more visceral – people gain, get paid, and feel good that they're helping out.
"And while it's great news that the majority were happy with the scheme last winter, what's noticeable is how few got anywhere close to the mooted £100 maximum. So I welcome the scheme returning – as people like it – but it would be good if it were publicised with more clarity over what's achievable and how people hit higher amounts."
Across all suppliers, more than seven in 10 (78% of users) who took part in an electricity use-cutting scheme last winter said they would sign up to take part again. And even among those who earned less than £5 in total, almost six in 10 (59%) said they would sign up again.
Here are just a few of the comments from those responding to MSE's survey:
|All suppliers (3,106)||34%||16%|
For the full details on earnings, see our more comprehensive table below.
British Gas (473) 44% 21% 22% 10% 1% 1% E.on Next (626) 62% 20% 11% 4% 1% 1% EDF (75) 45% 19% 27% 7% 0% 3% Octopus Energy (1,834) 20% 24% 33% 17% 4% 1% Ovo Energy (98) 40% 21% 15% 7% 10% 6% All suppliers (3,106) 34% 23% 26% 13% 3% 1%
Between roughly November 2022 and April 2023, 1.6 million households and businesses took part in schemes that paid them to cut electricity usage at peak times.
Octopus Energy had the largest scheme, with nearly 700,000 of its customers taking part – this is because Octopus let any customer with a working smart meter sign up, while other suppliers limited their schemes to those they'd invited. Two other major suppliers, British Gas and E.on Next, saw 200,000 and 145,000 customers join their respective schemes.
This was part of a broader initiative from the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), the body responsible for transporting electricity around England, Scotland and Wales and keeping homes and businesses powered.
The schemes were based on tracking usage during specific times of the day, so only those with working smart meters could take part, as smart meters are able to send half-hourly readings to your energy supplier.
Those taking part were asked to reduce their electricity consumption during certain periods, for example the evening peak between 4pm and 7pm – though the exact times varied depending on each supplier's scheme and the needs of the electricity grid.
National Grid ESO is once again running its so-called 'demand flexibility service' this winter, with many major energy suppliers already on board, including British Gas, EDF, Octopus, Ovo, Scottish Power, Shell Energy and Utilita. Going via your energy firm is usually the easiest way to do it – for full firm-by-firm info on how to join, see our new Energy use-cutting schemes guide.
If your supplier isn't taking part (or you don't like its scheme), you can also join through a third-party smartphone app, such as Equiwatt, Hugo, Loop and uTrack (from uSwitch). These connect to your smart meter directly, bypassing your supplier. They let you track your usage in near real-time, offer energy-saving tips and give you access to the ESO's use-cutting events – see our energy apps analysis for more info.