A government initiative to change the way electricity is created and stored could save consumers up to £40 billion, according to energy regulator Ofgem.
Business secretary Greg Clark has announced new rules that will come into affect over the next year aimed at dramatically changing the way we use electricity.
Part of the plans will make it easier for people to generate their own power from solar panels, store it in batteries and then either use it themselves or sell it to the National Grid.
At present, if you have solar panels you are charged a tariff when you import electricity into your home or export it back to the grid. These tariffs will change in order to encourage more people to generate solar electricity.
Nicola Shaw, the chief executive at the National Grid, told the BBC: “We are at a moment of real change in the energy industry. From an historic perspective, we created energy in big generating organisations that sent power to houses and their businesses. Now we are producing energy in those places – mostly with solar power.”
Another element of the plan is to reward customers who agree for their washing machine to be switched on remotely, via the internet, at times that maximise green energy. For example, your washing machine could be switched on to do a wash on a sunny afternoon when there is ample solar energy being collected.
Remote operation could also be used to smooth out peaks and troughs in electricity demand. For example, your freezer could be switched off for a few minutes when demand is very high, or a business might have its air-conditioning turned down briefly during a peak electricity consumption period.
These negative energy savings, or Negawatts, will then be packaged up by traders, and offered for sale to the National Grid.
Ms Shaw previously stated that between 30% and 50% of grid demand fluctuations could be smoothed out if businesses and households adjusted their consumption at peak times.
If the plans work, consumers will collectively save between £17 billion and £40 billion by 2050, according to the government and Ofgem.