Octopus Agile – how it works and can it cut your energy bills?

Agile Octopus is a variable electricity tariff where the prices are updated every 30 minutes based on wholesale prices. If you’re able to shift your energy use to cheaper periods, you could save on your bills. We’ve all you need to know on how Agile Octopus works and how it stacks up.

Most households are still on their energy supplier’s standard default tariff, with prices dictated by the Ofgem price cap. However, some suppliers have started offering fixed gas and electricity deals again.  

Octopus Energy is also offering tariffs closely linked to the wholesale cost of energy. The unit rates of Octopus Tracker change daily. But with the Agile Octopus tariff, prices change more regularly. 

What is the Agile Octopus energy tariff and who can get it?

Agile Octopus is a variable electricity tariff with prices pegged to the wholesale price of energy – the prices suppliers themselves pay – with rates updated every 30 minutes.

You can even be paid to use electricity during Octopus ‘Price Plunge’ events. This means if more electricity is generated across the UK than households are using, and wholesale prices fall below zero, you can get paid for the energy you use.

To get Agile Octopus:

  • You must be an existing Octopus customer to apply. If you’re not already a customer, you can switch to Octopus on its standard variable tariff first.
  • You must have a smart meter. Octopus says it can connect to second generation (SMETS2) meters and some first generation (SMETS1) ones. Customers without a smart meter can ask Octopus to fit one for free.
  • You need to contact Octopus to sign up. You can do this online at OctopusOctopus says due to “market volatility” it may need to restrict the daily number of customers who can sign up.
  • You’ll need a separate tariff for gas. The Agile Octopus deal is only available for electricity. If you also use gas, you’ll need to arrange a separate gas-only tariff. This can be from Octopus on its standard tariff, or with another firm.  

How does the Agile Octopus energy tariff work?

Prices are checked every 30 minutes, with the unit rates updated on a daily basis, based on the next day’s wholesale price forecast. Under the energy price cap, rates only change every three months.

Unit rates are published between 4pm and 8pm each day and show the rates you will pay for your electricity the following day. You can check the rate through your Octopus account, either online or via the app.

As well as paying a unit rate for the electricity you use, you also pay a daily standing charge.

Octopus says Agile’s prices are often cheaper when the energy in the grid is greener, and more expensive when energy’s dirtier (usually between 4-7pm, when the UK’s fossil fuel generating stations have been turned on to meet high demand). 

So to make the most of this tariff, you need to be willing to shift your energy use to the cheaper periods.

You could be paid to use electricity

A potential bonus with the Agile Octopus tariff is the chance to make money from your electricity usage.  Octopus calls this the ‘Price Plunge’. You’ll receive text alerts whenever wholesale prices drop below zero, when you’ll be paid to take energy off the grid. 

So far this year, Octopus says there have been over 100 Price Plunge events. In July, customers were paid up to 20p for every kWh of electricity used during an eight-hour period. Some households earned as much as £22 for upping their energy use for one day.

How does Agile Octopus compare to the energy price cap?

Agile Octopus isn’t protected by Ofgem’s energy price cap, as this only applies to suppliers’ standard default tariffs.

This means that, while you could benefit from cheaper prices if wholesale falls, there’s a risk you could end up paying way more than the limit set by Ofgem, if wholesale prices spike.

Agile Octopus does have its own built-in ‘Price Cap Protect’ facility. This means the maximum you can pay per unit of electricity is 100p per kWh. However, this is four times the rate charged under the current energy price cap, with households paying an average of 27p per kWh for electricity.

During Winter 2022- 23, Octopus says an average household would have paid around 35p per kWh with its Agile tariff. This is fractionally more than the average variable tariff.

As a rough guide, based on Agile Octopus prices across the South East, the average rate so far this month is 19p per kWh. This is much lower than the 27p per kWh you would pay under the energy price cap.

However, when looking at the average daily price, based on figures for the South East, this has ranged from 11.5p per kWh to to 31.7p per kWh. 

You can view the new Agile prices daily and get average annual unit prices and historical rates via octopushome.net – a site created by an Octopus customer using its open API.

Agile Octopus vs energy price cap in October

Average Agile Octopus rates Average energy price cap rates
Cost per unit of electricity 19p per kilowatt hour (kWh) 27p per kWh
Standing charge 43p per day 53p per day ​

Who is Agile Octopus best for?

Agile Octopus isn’t suitable for everyone. It’s aimed at customers who can switch the bulk of their energy use to make the most of cheaper off peak periods, typically overnight. This is most likely to include households with solar panels, electric vehicles or storage heaters.

If you’re on a tight budget and worried about affording your energy bills, or can’t shift your use, you may be better off staying with your supplier’s standard tariff or looking for the cheapest fixed deals.

Can I leave Agile Octopus if I change my mind?

If you decide to leave Agile Octopus, you can do so any time. As it’s not a fixed energy deal there’s no notice period or penalty to pay.

You will need to contact Octopus to ask to move, and then move to its standard variable tariff. 

However, if you later decide to switch back to Agile Octopus, or want to go on to the Octopus Tracker tariff where rates change daily, not every half-hour, you will then need to wait 30 days.