Energy conservation pays off.
Photo via Ohmconnect
It’s no secret that being green is not always so easy. Though it requires active effort and conscious living, minimizing your usage of natural resources can help both the planet and your wallet. Now, one company wants to further incentivize people to cut back on their energy consumption.
Ohmconnect rewards users, or their favorite charity, when they use less power during their community electrical grid’s peak demand time. The process is relatively simply: Users sign up for Ohmconnect and allow the company access to their home’s smart meter and any internet-connected devices. A few times a week, during times when a community’s energy demand exceeds the predicted amount the energy market expected, Ohmconnect sends an alert to users, asking them to reduce power consumption below their average energy use. Specific devices, such as a Nest thermostat, a Belkin smart watch, or a Tesla car, can be automatically managed by Ohmconnect to cut back on power usage. Then comes the sweet part of the deal: Ohmconnect pays users for the energy they don’t use.
“Users typically earn between $50 and $150 per year, depending on how much electricity they typically use,” Curtis Tongue, Ohmconnect’s co-founder, told Wired.
Ohmconnect’s cash rewards stem from the California Independent Systems Operator, the organization that manages the state’s electrical grid, and utility companies operating in the state. The ISO predicts how much energy each customer will use during various times, and this prediction is usually accurate. However, when too many customers exceed ISO’s expectations for a given period of time, additional power plants have to be turned on in order to meet the demand. These power plants are expensive for utility companies to operate (and generally use fossil fuels inefficiently), so the utility companies actually pay Ohmconnect to “buy” users’ unused energy, with Ohmconnect keeping 20 percent of the payment.
Ohmconnect sends an “#OhmHour” notification, which asks users to turn off or unplug non-vital electronic devices and appliances until the alert is over at the end of the hour. Reducing energy usage can range from turning off the air conditioning or heat, or waiting until the end of the hour to do laundry.
Users that successfully cut back energy consumption during Ohmhours receive points that can be cashed out via Paypal or Venmo, or donated to a charity of the user’s choice, at any time.
Ohmconnect is only availably in California currently, but according to Wired, Tongue plans to expand the company into Texas and other states as they adopt the regulations to sell energy on the open market.