Pull The Plug

With the country on lockdown and people staying in their homes more than ever the UK’s energy consumption has also, unsurprisingly, decreased. Industrial and Commercial makes up for a whopping 45% of energy consumption in the UK, and between the 24th March and the 3rd April energy demand dropped 20% due to closures of workplaces and factories. In comparison to April 2019, we consumed 14% less electricity during peak times which is a huge drop. The last time the UK saw electricity usage this low was in March 1975 according to the national grid.


Everyday is Christmas Day!


Normally during the working week there’s a peak time in the mornings and evenings for electricity usage. That’s when everybody wakes up and puts the kettle on, uses their electric shower, pops the toaster and turns on the heating before going to work. But due to the new working circumstances (working from home, furloughed etc.) the UK is waking up over a longer period of time so the morning peak is now flattening out.


The only other times during the year that we’ve seen the peak flatten during the year is on Christmas Day, New Years Day and on Sunday’s, when we all like to take a bit more time getting up in the morning.


What Does it All Mean?


Since Boris Johnson announced that the UK would be going on lockdown we’ve seen a 5-10% drop in electrical demand and suppliers anticipate a further drop by the end of April which will take the UK’s electricity consumption to its lowest since the 1960’s, which was before daily usage data was available to us. This is all due to a change in routine and with workplaces and schools shutting across the country all accounting for less energy being used commercially, and indicating new trends with residential electricity usage.


Your Usage at Home:


Less energy consumption is good for the planet, but it’s causing a head scratcher for energy providers. Power plants are designed to work within a certain frequency, the demand matches the supply. When they do not balance and there’s an excess of electricity this can cause individual plants to shut down one by one, potentially causing a grid collapse which results in blackouts. Normally this imbalance only happens on sunny, windy weekend days when the renewable sources supply lots of energy, but now that electricity isn’t being used in commercial and office buildings the imbalance is more frequent.


One company, Octopus Energy, has introduced a new tariff where they can actually pay you to use electricity at times when demand is low. During those lulls they send customers a text or email alert meaning you have the perfect time to turn on the washing machine or charge your electric car. So maybe check in with your supplier and see what they’re offering at this time.


Stick the Kettle On.


It’s easy to worry about our carbon footprint, we all want to take better care of the planet but just like the supply and demand of energy plants there is a balance to be found. So stick the kettle on and pop up your feet, cup of tea and don’t forget the biscuits.