Households that are willing to cut their energy use during peak times could be rewarded with points worth up to £150 a year to spend at retailers like John Lewis and Amazon.
A free app called equiwatt has launched a new reward scheme that lets users earn points each time they switch off or reduce the use of high-consuming appliances, including electric car chargers and washing machines, at peak times.
It follows similar moves by energy providers Octopus and Ovo Energy, who are paying customers to curb their energy use during peak times to reduce the likelihood of blackouts caused by strain on the grid.
Equiwatt users earn points each time they curb your energy use at peak times. These are then turned into credits to use at retailers such as Amazon, John Lewis and The Body Shop
How does it work?
Equiwatt’s app sends users notifications alerting them of peak times for energy use, two to three times a week.
At that point they can decide to turn off appliances, or reduce their use, for around an hour.
Participating in these ‘equivents’ – as these hours of energy saving are called – will earn points, which can then be turned into vouchers for retailers including The Body Shop, Amazon and John Lewis.
To earn points users will need to connect their home appliances to the app.
The easiest way to use equiwatt is via a smart plug, which will enable the user to program the app to automatically switch devices off when notified.
Note that at the moment, equiwatt is compatible with just one type of smart plug – TP-Link’s HS110 and KP115 models.
Smart plugs, which go into traditional electrical sockets, connect all household appliances into one and allow you to remotely manage them online and via an app.
But for most people, using equiwatt will mean connecting their smart meter to the app.
They will have to turn of appliances manually, and if the meter was installed before 2018, it may not be compatible.
You can use the app even if you don’t have a smart meter or plug, but instead of earning points you can get rewarded by entering a monthly prize draw, where you can win 2,000 points (worth £20) each month.
Which smart devices can I connect to the app?
Smart plugs: Kasa TP-Link KP115 & HS110
Smart charger: EO (Mini Pro 2)
Electric vehicles: Audi (Q4 e-tron not compatible), BMW, Cupra, Ford, Jaguar, Mercedes, Mini, Porsche (Taycan), Renault (Twizy not compatible), Seat, Skoda (Enyaq not compatible), Tesla, Volvo (C40 – XC40 Recharge not compatible), VW (ID series not compatible).
Equiwatt says its app helps with the cost of living crisis while also allowing households to reduce their carbon footprint, as energy suppliers often resort to using fossil fuel-based energy at these times to meet demand.
‘The equiwatt app couldn’t come at a better time when people are seeking ways to reduce their energy consumption and juggle the rising cost of living,’ said Johnson Fernandes, its chief executive.
‘The more people come together to reduce energy demand at peak times, the greater impact we will have on reducing strain on the electricity grid and avoiding disruption to our energy supply this winter.
‘Better still, householders can do their bit to help reach the UK’s net zero targets.’
How many points can I earn?
The app will calculate the amount of electricity you would normally use over peak hours – this is your forecast.
You will then earn points based on how much you reduce your electricity usage during that time, compared to your forecast.
Every time that you save energy by reducing usage manually via your smart meter or automatically with your smart plug or electric car, you will earn points.
Equiwatt said one of the best ways to earn more points is to make sure that your smart plug is connected to a high energy-consuming appliance that you use often.
‘For example, connecting a smart plug to a lamp or mobile phone charger will not save much energy […] as it doesn’t use much energy in the first place,’ it explains.
‘However, connecting a fridge/freezer, electric drying rack, electric heater, washing machine or tumble dryer will save much more energy and CO2 […] and therefore earn you more points.’
The points total per ‘equivent’ / during a typical month are a guide based on averages taken from equiwatt users The points totals are based on each appliance participating in every ‘equivent’ in a month for the full duration and each point is worth £1
Turning off your fridge freezer 10-12 times a month for an hour at a time could earn you between 100 and 400 points a month, according to equiwatt.
Each 100 points is worth £1, so it will require users to stick with the app and connect it to multiple devices to make serious money.
Points for smart plugs and electric cars are automatically added to your account after the hour of energy use reduction. Points for smart meter users are added 24-48 hours later.
The points can be redeemed in the in-app gift store on a range of rewards.
To redeem your points and claim your prize, select the blue ‘redeem for…’ button underneath the gift you wish to claim.