UK Blackouts: The exact times your house could face hours of power cuts this winter amid energy crisis

The winter month of December has arrived as official UK government documents outline plans for Britain to go ‘lights out’ after National Grid warned there could be blackouts due to an expected energy crisis.

The UK government has plans in place which reveal the exact times your house could suffer an electricity blackout this winter. This comes as a result of National Grid warnings of a potential energy crisis that could cripple the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been accused of sabotaging the Nord Stream pipeline which would subsequently restrict gas supplies to Europe. It is reported that Russia would use this to punish the West for its support of Ukraine. Despite the fact that the UK does not rely on Russian energy supply, it does import sizable amounts of electricity and gas from European countries that do.

National Grid had initially warned blackouts may have to be used, especially during cold nights in January and February 2023, as a matter of conserving the gas of electricity generators. A possible plan, which will include three-hour intervals of no power at UK homes in the winter, has now been released.

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    Due to the warnings issued by energy officials, the government has revealed plans in place to conserve energy this winter. It is called ‘The Electricity Supply Emergency Code’ which involves a number of rolling blackouts in the country.

    The document details various levels of blackouts or “disconnections” that would be implemented sporadically throughout the United Kingdom. With plans to totally cut power to houses for as little as three-hours a day, up to a 24 hour total shutdown.

    It also informs the public of the three main steps and methods the government could be implementing as a way to conserve energy. They are as follows:

    • Direct appeals to the public and industry, asking them to reduce their electricity demand
    • Restrictions to be placed on industrial energy consumption, such as requiring companies and firms to reduce their energy usage by a certain percentage
    • The use of rolling blackouts or “rota disconnections” throughout the country

    Blackout times for UK houses this winter

    The Electricity Supply Emergency Code (ESEC) aims to provide equal distribution and consumption of electricity throughout the country in the chance that there are shortages. One of the main planned methods of achieving this is through rolling blackouts.

    Due to the fact that energy in the UK is provided by a number of suppliers, they divide it up into 18 different load blocks which is very similar to postcodes. Each load block is assigned a letter from A to U - though F,I and O are not used - and each one is assigned different periods of time that will be affected by blackouts under this energy conservation plan.

    Each day will be split up into eight three-hour periods, starting from 12:30am to 3:30am and ending at 9:30pm to 12:30am, and will be assigned a number from one to eight. The areas are spread across the country so energy consumers with the same load block letter will all be affected at the same time.

    The first stage - Level One - involves UK homes suffering a three-hour electricity blackout three times a week although some load blocks of houses will be ‘lights out’ on four occasions. Most of the cuts will take place at the beginning of the week. For example, Block A households will undergo electricity blackouts on Mondays from 12:30am to 3:30am, on Wednesdays from 3:30pm to 6:30pm and on Sundays from 12:30am to 3:30am.

    Here is the distribution of blackouts throughout UK load blocks on Level 1 (UK Government)

    Even though Level Two will see the number of blackouts double, the National Grid aims to keep them close together. UK homes will be without power six times a week, which amounts to 18 hours of blackouts.

    Level Three will see the number of blackouts surge even further, with the number of three-hour cuts increasing by three. This means UK households will suffer 27 hours of power cuts each week.

    If the power situation worsens to such a worrying degree, there are further crisis levels in place that could see houses spend more time without power than with it. From Level Five seeing 15 lots of three-hour blackouts per week (45 hours) to Level 18 which will see a complete and utter shutdown or “disconnection” of the UK’s power grid. In this case, protected sites such as hospitals, food manufacturers, oil refineries, ports, essential water and sewage services, major airports and digital telecommunication services will all remain unaffected.

    How to check which block your house is in

    To find out which blackout times are relevant to your household, you will first need to know which letter load block you are located in. You can find this by looking for one of your energy bills, which should have a letter, often boxed, located near the top. Note that not every energy supplier will include your load block on your energy bills, so if this is the case you will need to contact them directly to find out.