Homes could face a series of planned three-hour power outages this winter, National Grid has said. The blackouts would take place in ‘pre-defined periods’ and have been described by the Energy Saving Trust as a ‘worst-case scenario’ during this uncertain period for power supplies.

If Britain cannot import enough electricity, power outages may be put in place in households and businesses to reduce total consumption by 5%.

kitchen with open shelving and three hanging exposed bulb lights

(Image credit: Future PLC / Lizzie Orme)

National Grid power outage plans 

Stew Horne, head of policy at the Energy Saving Trust (opens in new tab), says that the National Grid’s announcement doesn’t mean an interruption to our energy supply will actually happen. However, it does highlight the need to reduce our demand for gas in the short and long term.

‘In the short term, the UK Government needs to consider how to reduce energy demand this winter to increase energy security, lower bills and promote decarbonisation for the long term,’ says Stew Horne. 

‘The cheapest energy is the energy we don’t use and there is much the Government should do to help households to lower demand, primarily through improving the energy efficiency of homes,’ he adds.

Grey living room with white vertical radiator behind grey armchair

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

To enable this, Stew Horne explains that we need an accessible, national, impartial and tailored energy advice service that will empower people to take action to save energy at home and therefore save money on home energy bills. 

‘We cannot afford to wait,’ he says. ‘There are still opportunities for fast action and financial commitment this year to permanently reduce energy demand to both cut costs and carbon emissions while keeping people warm and comfortable.’

How likely are the National Grid power outages?

The current uncertainty around gas supplies is a result of Russian energy supplies being cut off amid the war in Ukraine, and reduced supplies from France. There is a possibility that homes will face blackouts if energy supplies become extremely low. 

National Grid has however described the scenario in which Great Britain will have insufficient supplies of gas as ‘unlikely’. Prime Minister Liz Truss previously ruled out energy rationing, and in response to the National Grid’s Winter Outlook, the Government has said that it is confident that it will secure winter power supplies.

room with light pink wall golden wall shelves and plant in vase

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

How to prepare in the event of a power outage

There are a few things you can do in the eventuality of a pre-planned power outage. Turn appliances off at the plug beforehand to be safe, and think about the things you would usually use during the three-hour period that use electricity, from the kettle to your TV, and find ways to work around the lack of electricity. 

There are a few things worth stocking up on to keep in an emergency bundle incase of a power outage.

  • Battery-operated torch – A heavy duty battery torch that can stand up on its own like this LED Torch on Amazon, priced at £17.49 (opens in new tab), is ideal to have on hand.
  • USB lamps – These lamps cost as little as £12.99 on Amazon (opens in new tab) and can be powered by anything with a USB port, including your laptop or power bank if you find yourself without batteries.
  • Warm blankets – Electric blankets might be out of action, but keep a store of blankets on hand to keep warm.
  • Flasks of hot water – This is a good hack to save energy on boiling a kettle, even if you aren’t expecting a power shortage. You can pick up a 5 litre thermos to keep the whole family in hot water for £32.56 on Amazon (opens in new tab).
  • Camping stove – You can pick a stove up for around £29 on Amazon (opens in new tab), but make sure you’re stocked up on fuel.
  • Power Bank – The last thing you want is your phone running out of battery, so make sure you have a power bank charged up and ready to go. 

Look at ways to keep a house warm in winter so your home is well insulated ahead of a power cut. You could also fill a cupboard with food that you can cook on a barbecue or camping stove, and download movies on a laptop or iPad.