Households were paid to cut back on their electricity use for an hour on Monday evening in the first test of a National Grid scheme aiming to cut energy consumption in Great Britain. The second trial was taking place on Tuesday, between 4.30pm and 6pm.
More than 1m households and businesses have signed up to the live -demand flexibility service.
Here, five people share what it was like to reduce their power use for an hour – from those who turned off everything to those who cut back – and what motivated them to take part.
‘It’s no hardship for us’
We’ve been already participating in the Octopus saving sessions. I think we saved about £8 across three sessions last year. On Monday it was 5-6pm, but we extended it to 4.30pm to 7pm because our costs are very high during that time period.
The fridge and freezer were pretty much all that was running. We’re careful to make sure nothing is running in the background, like the transformer attached to our sofa’s electronic foot raiser.
We ate dinner at 4.30pm and used candles and the wood burning stove. We phoned our son, and did the crossword on our phones – we have a bit of competition going between us.
It’s no hardship for us as retired people. If this can help prevent the National Grid using coal-fired power then we’ll feel like it was really worth it. Part of this for me is learning how to deprive myself of something – I’ve been thinking hard about how to reduce my environmental impact. Morag Bramwell, 65, near Inverness, retired
‘It was peaceful’
View image in fullscreenGillian Williamson. Photograph: Gillian Williamson
I decided to take part to try to save money – I’m in arrears. I know it won’t be much but it might help a little bit – I don’t know yet how much I’ve saved.
I turned off the fuse box on Monday at 5pm so the wifi was down and it was peaceful – the kids loved it. I’d had the heating on before and it was still kind of warm – we had blankets so it wasn’t too bad.
I lit a scented candle and sat talking with my daughter. It was good to have nothing to do at all – we just spoke to one another.
My nine-year-old twins are usually on their phones all the time, but there was no way of getting on the wifi so they actually played, rolling balls around. One of my sons is now saying he wants to do it again. Gillian Williamson, 48, Castleford, housekeeper
‘I got the whole family involved’
View image in fullscreenLee Thompson
I have taken part in smaller events before through my energy provider. On previous occasions we didn’t completely cut down, just reduced things on standby. But this time I got the whole family involved and told them it was a national event that we were being asked to do to help out the National Grid. Every small thing done by everyone can have an impact.
My children understood and my daughter went round and turned all the plugs off. I’d prepared dinner for 5pm so everything was off and we sat and ate with a single light on downstairs. It was nice to sit and chat. The children either did homework or instrument practice. I played a board game with one of my sons. Easy, really. No big deal. Lee Thompson, 49, Nottingham, youth worker
‘We can manage without hot drinks’
View image in fullscreenCarole Benton
We went round turning off standby devices, toasters, computers and chargers but left the router functioning for the smart meter. We lit candles and watched The Chase on TV. We always watch that between 5 and 6pm anyway so it wasn’t massively difficult for us and we can manage without hot drinks for that time, it won’t kill us! At the moment we have to think about it a bit, but it’s not life changing.
Now that we’re retired, it doesn’t take a huge amount for us to reorganise our life so we don’t need to use electricity. I’m quite happy to leave it for people who have got children and have to get school uniforms washed and dried for the next day.
The Octopus app is still calculating our “reward” so we wonder if we’ve actually made a difference. We’d do the same again if it worked. Carole Benton, 61, East Sussex, retired
‘We’ve all got to do our bit’
We planned our meal and ate earlier than normal, at 4.45pm. We either read (with a head torch) or used a prepared laptop to watch a film or talk. Heating off, lights off.
We’ve all got to do our bit to help with the fuel crisis and avoid the possibility of blackouts. If the people in Ukraine can live with daily power cuts and hardship it isn’t a big thing for us to sit at home (safe and warm under blankets) and not use appliances for an hour or so.
I made sure that everyone at home was happy about participating and understands why we’re doing it. You have to make sure everyone agrees with it, you can’t convince teenagers – they have to buy in, that’s really important. You can’t make them be miserable for an hour. Sarah, 50, Chesterfield. lawyer