Households will be able to receive discounts on energy bills if they reduce electricity usage in peak hours on certain days after National Grid plans were given the go-ahead.

The network operator, which revealed the service as part of efforts to avoid potential blackouts, has said households could save up to £100 through the limited scheme.

Energy watchdog Ofgem has approved the proposals for the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) to launch the programme, called the Demand Flexibility Service, from November until March.

In the coming days, the ESO will seek to run the first tests for the service, which will also be available to businesses.

There will be 12 test days to see how customers respond and only those with smart meters will be able to take part.

Households participating in the programme will be sent a message from the network if there is increased pressure on the system.

It will ask people and businesses who have signed up to reduce or move their electricity usage outside peak hours.

It comes a month after the operator warned in its Winter Outlook that the first planned blackouts in decades might hit parts of the country this winter if power plants cannot get enough gas to keep running.

In what it called an “unlikely” scenario, the ESO said that households and businesses might face planned three-hour outages to ensure the grid does not collapse.

Fintan Slye, executive director of the ESO, said: “We are delighted that Ofgem has approved the use of our Demand Flexibility Service this winter.

“It will help mitigate the potential risks that the ESO has outlined in its Winter Outlook and will allow consumers to see a financial return for reducing their electricity use at peak times.

“As a responsible operator of the electricity system, we have developed this innovative Demand Flexibility Service to compliment the robust set of tools we already use to balance the electricity system every day.”