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Researchers at the University of Oxford have launched a five-year programme to investigate ways of relieving peak demands on the UK’s electricity grid that also might make energy bills cheaper too.

Electricity meter reading 1 Nick Hubbard

Photowww.flickr.com(CC BY-ND 2.0)

Peak demand is posing an increasing challenge to the UK’s electricity system. A government commission set up to look at the UK’s future needs for nationally significant infrastructure recently reported that up to £8.1bn could be saved if we became 'smarter' about electricity, including use of electricity at down times rather than at peak times. In the first study of its kind, thousands of Britons are invited to log their activities in a 24-hour diary so researchers can identify patterns of electricity usage in the home. They also want to know if there are acceptable ways of shifting or reducing demand outside of peak times. 

The METER project launched today with the release of a short online animation called Power People It explains how by changing patterns of use, we would make our energy system less expensive, more secure and more sustainable. The film says that at times of peak demand, households make up half of the nation’s electricity usage. Until now, little has been known about what appliances and activities lead to the high demand during the most critical periods.

 Read more on the University website (opens new window)