Windy weather? Get the washing on

Washing lineA new trial is underway to see if communicating with consumers about day-ahead energy prices can help save them money.

Over 1,100 EDF customers with smart meters in the London area are participating in the research jointly run by UK Power Networks, Imperial College London and EDF Energy.

The focus of the trial is to see if letting consumers know the changing price of energy – when it's going to be more expensive and more importantly for cash-strapped households, when it's going to be cheaper - can influence demand.

The trial will explore the use of low carbon energy from wind farms and how using renewables in the energy mix could potentially reduce prices, or at least arm consumers with the knowledge of when the cheapest rates will be available.

Low Carbon London programme director at UK Power Networks, Liam O'Sullivan said: "This ground-breaking research will test whether day-ahead pricing can influence demand, manage the network more efficiently and encourage greater use of low carbon electricity.

"We want to see whether people can move their demand patterns away from peak times to support the most efficient, low carbon operation of the infrastructure which brings power to their door."

Consumers will receive 24-hours' notice of price changes, via their smart meter and texts to their mobile phone. The trial will see if households will do energy-intensive tasks such as washing, tumble-drying and baking on days when green energy is plentiful and cheap.

Despite government-proposed energy reforms, energy bosses have suggested that telling consumers which deals are the cheapest may be too difficult. But things are getting tougher for consumers - recent research revealed that 80% believed that household energy in the UK has become "unaffordable", while 7 in 10 households went without heating during the winter due to affordability issues.

What do you think? Would you change your energy usage patterns based on cheaper rates? Let us know in the comments.

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