British Gas, the largest gas and electricity supplier in the UK, has announced that it will begin providing free electricity to its customers on Saturday.
The move aims to stop existing customers switching to other providers and also reduce the demand for energy during peak demand hours.
The scheme is expected to launch in autumn for dual fuel British Gas customers with smart meters.
‘It’s not philanthropy’ or commercial suicide
Speaking on the initiative, Ian Peters, managing director of British Gas’s residential supply business, told The Times: “It’s not philanthropy, it’s a great retention device for electricity customers.
“Ninety nine per cent of customers would use this responsibly for the right reasons. There may be 2 to 3% of people out there who do have a very strange use or extreme behaviour. I will go for the greater good.”
Peters did explain that any household which abused the free electricity, for example by leaving all lights on all the time or starting an energy intensive business, could be removed from the tariff.
Big six energy companies losing customers to independent suppliers
The move follows an announcement from British Gas that it lost 460,000 customers, following its 9.2% energy price hike last November.
As part of a trial, British Gas offered 2,000 customer free electricity on Saturdays and found that 60% changed their usage significantly. The most common changes related to using washing machines and charging devices on Saturday.
The supplier is reportedly considering offering discounted gas during certain periods if the free electricity scheme is successful, although this may prove more difficult as the latter is used for heating and eating.