Households set to be paid for not using washing machines in peak times

The plans could be announced soon, in a bid to ease the strain on the power grid. Credit: AP/PA

Households with smart meters could be paid for turning off high-energy appliances such as washing machines during peak times to reduce the risk of blackouts this winter.

The National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) is understood to be preparing to announce plans to reward consumers for easing the strain on the power grid.

Rebates for minimising the use of goods such as tumble dryers, dishwashers and games consoles during the peak hours of 5pm-8pm could be as high as £6 per kWh saved.

The Sunday Times, which first reported the plans, said the grid will apply to the Ofgem regulator for approval, with hopes the scheme will open by late October.

A National Grid ESO spokesman said: “We are developing a new service that will be available for consumers to benefit from across this winter and will be announcing further information soon.”

Energy bills are set to rise even further. Credit: PA

The plans follow a trial with Octopus Energy customers earlier this year, when as little as 20p was paid for every kWh, or kilowatt hour, saved.

A range of prices have since been considered, including up to £6.

It comes after experts warned energy prices could spike at as much as £6,000 per year for the average household from next April.

Consultancy Auxilione predicted that the price cap on bills will gradually rise by more than £4,000 in the next eight months, with the cost-of-living crisis set to get worse between now and next summer.

They said that the cap is expected to reach £3,576 in October, rising to £4,799 in January, and finally hitting £6,089 in April.

That’s on top of an economy expected to head into a recession, according to Bank of England’s forecast, with inflation possibly peaking at 13%.

Currently at £1,971 for the average household, Ofgem will announce the change to the cap for October and December on Friday.

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Separate to the ESO plans, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng earlier promised “Help is coming” to cope with rising energy bills.

Work is happening across government, he said, to mitigate the worst effects of the gas crisis - but stopped short of saying how.

The close ally of leadership front runner Liz Truss says the key to energy security is producing it locally.

“I understand the deep anxiety this is causing. As winter approaches, millions of families will be concerned about how they are going make ends meet,” he wrote in the Mail+.

“But I want to reassure the British people that help is coming.”

He said Ms Truss “will look at what more can be done to help families” but insisted it is “entirely reasonable not to detail the exact shape of that support until she has all the information to hand.”

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi last week suggested that rolling blackouts are unlikely as preparations were under way for the winter, while Russia’s invasion of Ukraine strains supplies.