Households could be paying for LED lighting in supermarkets, airports and hospitals.

This is part of an attempt by the energy department to reduce the UK’s power usage. The energy secretary, Ed Davey, announced that £20m of taxpayer money will be used for a trial scheme where businesses are offered funding to carry out ‘energy efficiency improvements’. This includes things like changing an average bulb for an LED.

Businesses will take part in a ‘reverse auction’ where they will bid for either the entire cost covered or just part of it. More than over 300 businesses have expressed an interest in the scheme.

The plan is intended to reduce national electricity demand, easing the risk of blackouts and avoiding the need for more power stations to be built. If the trial is successful, ministers will continue to offer money through the ‘billpayer-funded capacity market’.

The market, launched later this year at an estimated cost of £13 per household per year, will pay power plants retainers to guarantee their availability and also pay businesses to temporarily reduce their usage at times of peak demand.

The new plan differs by funding permanent reductions in energy usage measures which are likely to save businesses money rather than inconveniencing them.

The Department of Energy said that the cash would be awarded: “where projects would not have happened without the upfront funding.”

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