"Putting off the ironing will help an awful lot!"

Problems with nuclear power stations mean that the electricity companies may not be able to meet peak demand this winter and the authorities have drawn up a special plan for organised power cuts in the event of a dangerous situation on the Belgian grid. One of the ways to avoid a brownout is to encourage energy users to cut back. But how much impact would such a voluntary appeal have? This is what the electricity company Lampiris has now tried to find out.

The company launched a pilot project. In all some 140,000 went online to signal their preparedness to take part. On Thursday evening a test was carried out. Tens of thousands of households were asked by text to conserve energy between 6pm and 7:30pm.

The company says that the test was a clear success. Lampiris CEO Tom Van de Cruys told newsmen that consumption was down between 100 and 200 Megawatts during this period.

The CEO believes that if all Belgians moderate their electricity consumption during periods of shortage there would be a clear impact and a brownout could be avoided.

Tom Van de Cruys: "There's no need to forfeit your comfort. Postponing the ironing or the weekly wash will help an awful lot".

The company is now sending out a questionnaire to find out what action consumers took.