Octopus Energy just PAID these homes to use electricity

Time to switch energy provider?

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(Image credit: Photo by Jesper Baerentzen from FreeImages)

Thousands of UK homes were paid to use electricity over the weekend, when a surplus of green energy (opens in new tab) led to negative prices for the first time during the day.

The sunny weather and brisk breeze on Sunday meant that renewable energy generation spiked, while energy demand has fallen with the lockdown. As a result, some households supplied by Octopus Energy (opens in new tab) were paid to use electricity on Sunday.

Which tariff had negative pricing?

The Agile Octopus tariff (opens in new tab) has dynamic pricing that is updated every 30 minutes. It’s this tariff that gave the negative pricing and effectively paid homes to use electricity over the weekend.

Octopus calls this plunge pricing, and claims it’s the first time any energy supplier in the world has passed on the payments it receives to use up spare electricity. 

On Sunday, it charged customers between -0.22p and -3.3p per kWh. Octopus customers get a SMS text alert when prices drop and can programme smart devices to start using up electricity when it's cheapest.

Can I switch to the Agile Octopus tariff?

You need to have the right kind of smart meter to switch energy to the Agile Octopus tariff. If you don’t have one, you can join a waitlist to get one installed - most customers only have to wait six weeks.

Should I switch to Agile Octopus tariff?

This tariff is designed for households that can shift their energy consumption out of the peak hours of 4-7pm. It’s a variable rate tariff, so the cost of your energy bills (opens in new tab) will fluctuate - although there is a limit on the maximum amount that you can be charged for energy.

The tariff is in beta stage, which means it’s not a perfect, finished product. You need to be prepared for the switch to take a little longer, and for things to not be completely smooth when you get started.

Do other tariffs have negative pricing?

It might be possible to find other energy providers that offer negative pricing - but if you want to save money on your bills, moving to a variable tariff may not be the best option for you. The only way to really know which supplier and tariff will save you money is to dig out an old energy bill and use an energy comparison (opens in new tab) tool like ours to compare costs.

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Laura Nineham
Laura Nineham

Laura is a freelance journalist who works with number of consumer brands, including T3, TechRadar, Real Homes and Robb Report. She has a background in writing about green energy, superyachts, travel, and personal finance.