This paper proposes a novel method to characterize the availability of household loads to participate in demand response programmes, as well as detailed mathematical models to characterize households loads. The availability of the households results from the flexibility of their controllable loads to increase/reduce consumption. This flexibility is calculated taking into account the comfort levels predefined by the customers and the technical restrictions of the controllable loads. The proposed method was evaluated through a management algorithm developed to perform demand control actions in quasi-real-time, according to the objectives of the distribution system operator or energy aggregator and the availability of the household loads. A scenario with a single household located in a semi-urban area is used to illustrate the application of the algorithm and validate the proposed method.