HOUSEHOLDS are being warned of electricity blackouts this winter, and you may want to make sure you have these items in your home.

Shortages of gas mean there could be planned three-hour blackouts in some areas to ease pressure on the UK power grids.

The National Grid has warned of power cuts at peak times – potentially in the evenings when it's dark outside.

It said the number of people left without electricity would depend on how many gas power stations would be forced to shut down because there is not enough gas.

In order to avoid planned power cuts, households could be paid to turn down their heating and not use their washing machines at the busiest time to reduce demand on the energy networks.

If the power cuts do go ahead, it will be the first time there have been controlled blackouts since the 1970s. 


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There are 15 power networks in the UK, and if there is a looming shortage, the National Grid will notify households if they will be cut off temporarily.

The Sun asked the Energy Networks Association (ENA) to find out what items you should have in your home to prepare for winter power cuts.

What items should I have in my house to prepare for a power cut?

Before a power cut, there are a few things you can do to make sure you are equipped to deal with the dark times.

You should make sure your phone battery is fully charged, the experts at the ENA said.

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This is so that your phone is ready to use straight away in case there is an emergency.

The ENA said if you have a power cut, call 105 – it is a free-of-charge helpline and you will be put through to your local network operator to help.

This also goes for devices such as laptops and tablets.

The ENA also say it is a good idea to write down and keep a list of important contacts just in case your mobile phone does die.

You should make sure you have at least one torch in your house and spare batteries.

Try to avoid candles if you can because they are a fire risk.

You should also consider buying an external battery pack so you can charge your phone without relying on electricity.

You can pick up a portable phone charger for £19.99 from Argos -just remember that if you order online, you may have to pay a delivery fee.

You could also pick up a similar charge for £16.99 from Amazon.

But make sure you should around, because you may be able to find a better deal elsewhere.

In the case of a prolonged power cut, make sure you have warm clothes and blankets handy, the ENA said.

What else should I do to prepare for a power cut?

Have a first aid kit handy too in case of an emergency.

Make sure you know how to operate the manual release of your garage door, if you have one.

It may also be a good idea to keep your car's petrol tank full as petrol stations rely on electricity to pump petrol.

Have some cash handy too because all card machines work with electricity.

If you rely on anything that requires battery power like a medical device, make sure you talk to your doctor about a backup plan.

If you have a stair lift, for example, you should have a backup battery

But if you don't, you should contact the manufacturer for advice.

It may also be a good idea to check in with your neighbours to see if they need help during the power cut.

You should also check the appliances that should be unplugged ahead of a blackout.

It's because when the power comes back, the surge of electricity may cause the circuit to fry and the appliance can be damaged.

The Sun has put together a handy guide of the appliances you should always switch off in a blackout.

Other tips

People are being encouraged to sign up with their electricity supplier for a scheme which will give them money back on their bills.

To get the money back, customers will be expected to shift their use of power away from times of high demand to help prevent blackouts.

That could mean putting on the dishwasher or washing machine overnight or charging an electric vehicle at off-peak times.

The "demand flexibility service" will run from November to March, and it is being introduced to help prevent blackouts.

So far there are two major suppliers providing customers with the scheme.

OVO Energy has announced a trial where customers can save up to £100 on their bills by switching their usage to less busy times of the day.

And Octopus Energy has also said customers will be £100 better off by using its "Saving Sessions" flexibility service.

Other energy suppliers have not yet announced how they will run the scheme.

But you'll need to be on a smart meter no matter which supplier you're with to take advantage of it.

And most people currently pay the same amount for energy throughout the day and night, unless they are on an Economy 7 or 10 tariff.

These give you cheaper rates during the night and more expensive ones in the daytime – so the scheme will have varied results depending on which tariff you're on.

It's expected that households will receive a text, email or letter explaining that if they use less energy during peak hours on set days, they could be paid up to £10 a day if they choose to opt in.

But remember – there are a few risks and pieces of safety advice to take note of if you're going to run some appliances overnight.

These include:

  • Close all doors as this can help to prevent fire and smoke from spreading.
  • Switch off and unplug electrical items such as TVs.
  • Avoid charging devices like mobile phones when you sleep.
  • Make sure any candles are out before you go to bed.
  • Check your cooker and heaters are turned off.

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We covered a full list of appliances you could be paid to use at night – read up on it here.

You can also check when to expect blackouts – including an exact time of day.

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