James Burton, This is Money, 22 March 2016
Millions of lives will be put at risk by plans to offer all families cheaper energy during the night, firefighters say.
To help people cut their energy bills, the Government is working with power companies to fit a ‘smart meter’ in every home.
As well as recording how much energy you use every half-hour, smart meters will help gas suppliers to charge different rates at different times of day.
Families will see prices fall when demand drops and rise at peak times. This could make it cheaper to run appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers at night.
However, Money Mail has learned fire experts have serious concerns about the idea. The Chief Fire Officers Association says it was never consulted on whether it is safe to do so.
It warns that running electrical appliances while you are asleep will put your family at greater risk of being trapped by fire.
Andy Reynolds, electrical safety expert for the association, says: ‘Never leave a tumble dryer, washing machine or dishwasher running when you have gone to bed or have left the house unoccupied.
‘If it is absolutely necessary to run one of these appliances during sleeping hours, then there should be sufficient working smoke alarms correctly sited to alert sleeping occupants.
‘Everyone in the household should know what the escape plan is in the event a fire breaks out.’
Energy experts also reacted with horror at the idea. Mark Todd, marketing director at price comparison site Energyhelpline, says: ‘It’s unbelievable customers are being told to run appliances at night to save money.
‘No one appears to have consulted the fire service.
‘Everyone in the energy industry advises it and the Government likes it as it spreads out usage meaning we need fewer power stations, but running appliances at night puts you at an increased risk of being trapped in a burning building as you sleep.’