Understanding the Demand Flexibility Service
The Demand Flexibility Service is a voluntary scheme aimed at encouraging energy customers with smart meters to reduce their electricity usage at specific times when supplies could be stretched.
The Demand Flexibility Service - helping to create a smart, flexible, energy network.
The Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) was developed by the National Grid, which manages the electricity system in England, Scotland, and Wales. It was first offered to consumers by participating electricity companies and aggregators over the winter of 2022/2023. Following this initial roll-out of the service, the National Grid has confirmed plans, subject to OFGEM approval, for the use of the Demand Flexibility Service over the coming winter.
The DFS allowed you to opt in and help the nation’s electricity system better handle peak electricity demand. These peak usage hours are typically from 4-7 pm but may vary. Once you’ve opted in, your DFS provider would alert you in advance when they would like you to reduce your use of electricity during a DFS event.
Encouraging customers to move some of their electricity use to earlier or later in the day can help the National Grid manage peak demand in a smarter way. This could reduce the risk of blackouts or having to rely on backup power generation. In return, consumers were rewarded with payment, credit or some other form of reward.
Why was the DFS introduced?
The DFS was designed to help people consume electricity in a more flexible way by rewarding them for reducing their electricity use during peak times. Having more flexibility in our electricity system is seen as important for two main reasons:
Helping when supplies are running low.
Electricity supplies can run low due to a larger demand from homes and businesses due to cold weather and longer, darker nights, combined with periods when less renewable energy can be produced.
Reducing the use of backup electricity production.
During peak hours it is sometimes necessary to use additional, fossil fuel power generators. This can be more expensive and release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
How to save electricity during a DFS event
Consumers could choose to use power-hungry appliances like tumble driers, ovens, dishwashers, and immersion heaters before or after the DFS event. Reducing electricity usage during the event, for example by using a microwave instead of an electric oven, would also help.
Modern televisions, laptop computers, and energy-efficient lightbulbs typically use much less electricity, so changing the time of day when used would have less impact.
You can find advice on saving energy in our Energy Saving Tips section.
Consumers are advised to follow safety guidance on using electrical devices in the home. For example, Electrical Safety First recommends appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers aren’t run unattended overnight.
Do you need a smart meter to take part in the Demand Flexibility Service?
Yes. In order to accurately measure energy usage in the home during a DFS event, and to create a baseline measure of the last 60 days of electricity usage, a smart meter capable of sending half-hourly readings is required.
Consumers without a smart meter can start the application process here.
If you’ve signed up for the Demand Flexibility Service, do you have to take part?
No, taking part in a DFS event is entirely optional. Consumers can opt-in with their energy company, but if they don’t take any action, nothing will change.
Information for people needing help with energy bills.
As energy costs have risen recently, more people are struggling to pay their energy bills, and an increasing number of us are worried about energy bills. We’ve put together some advice on what to do if you’re worried about rising energy bills.