OhmConnect has a funny name, but is a serious energy-saving, web-based service that has the goal of not only bettering the environment, but also your bank account. OhmConnect is the California-based “software that turns your home into a virtual power plant.” How does it do this? By literally selling your energy consumption back to the grid. No hardware is required. The best part? It’s completely free to use. And it doesn’t get cheaper than free.
How OhmConnect Works
Once you sign up on the OhmConnect website (you can easily use your Facebook account and receive text alerts – save OhmConnect as #OhmHour in your phone so you can be sure not to ignore future messages), you’re brought to your Dashboard, where you can connect your smart home devices, like your smart Wifi thermostat, smart plug, or electric car. Don’t own any of those items? No problem – OhmConnect offers convenient and affordable purchase options displayed right on the Connect page. Popular Wifi thermostats by brands like Wiser Air and ecobee3 are available, as well as smart plugs like the TP-LINK Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring, a high-quality, easy-to-use smart device that helps you get the most out of the biggest energy sucks, like refrigerators, washer/dryer units, and space heaters.
OhmConnect will notify you when energy prices are spiking and dirty power plants are turning on. These alerts, set up through your text messaging service, prompts you to turn off a light or shut down your PC. You will get paid for your reduction in energy usage. You can cash out via PayPal or donate to your charity of choice. This works, even if your home has solar panels.
OhmConnect also analyzes your home’s energy consumption, shows you geographically where your energy comes from, and automates your smart home devices, as demonstrated above.
Even the U.S. Department of Energy is impressed with OhmConnect – the service won the department’s American Energy Data Challenge.
What It All Means
Some of OhmConnect’s jargon may not be immediately evident in explaining how to reduce one’s energy usage. After all, what is a dirty power plant? Is there such a thing as a “clean” power plant? Never fear – explaining money-saving-lingo is our bread and butter.
“Dirty” power is not necessarily a power plant itself, but rather, the power – the term is referencing a sag, spike, surge, overvoltage, interruption, fluctuation, transient, or noise; basically, an abnormality in electricity at your local power plant. It can happen inside or outside of your power facility. Causes are not immediately apparent, but can range from lightning, to utility switch, to capacitor switching – or simply a fault in the utility’s distribution system. Daily fluctuations from devices that often get turned on and off can also cause power hazards – that goes for even small appliances that share the same line as other equipment.
You earn tokens just for signing up at OhmConnect – tokens you can use to play games and win prizes. Who knew that saving energy could be so much fun?
For example, playing OhmConnect’s “Spin to Win” game, which uses 30 tokens, will get you a badge – you collect all needed badges to win the ultimate prize (one of the prizes being a freakin’ Tesla! Oh, and you can win even more cash, too). Smaller, but certainly not lesser, prizes include thermostats, sunglasses, and discount codes.
Be sure to do a Status Level Tune-Up to ensure that you’re getting the most out of the website. Check off items on your virtual to-do list, like requesting your utility service to use OhmConnect, setting your zip code, and referring a friend (you get up to $75 per referral – not too shabby).
Keep in mind that the wisest means to use your points with the service is to use them on the OhmConnect gift cards once you’re at the Silver, Gold, or Platinum levels and have completed the enrollment process. OhmConnect rounds up the value of points on a gift card so you can get the most bang for your proverbial buck. For example, if you spend 2,000 points, you get a $30 gift card; if you spend 5,000 points, you get a $70 gift card, and so on and so forth. All OhmConnect members automatically receive a 5% discount at the website’s store, and they are open to hearing competitors’ prices, should you find a less inexpensive item.
Additionally, OhmConnect will reward its customers up to $300 annually for not contributing to high demand power usage that triggers dirty power.
The One Drawback
OhmConnect only works with California utilities, which are PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E. You can still sign up at the website for notifications when OhmConnect is available where you live, and you can still register and begin earning badges. Since OhmConnect is the first of its kind to bring this type of service to homes in California, it’s not unusual that it will take some time to expand into other markets.
If OhmConnect isn’t yet available in your area, you can find other money-saving tips and tricks online, or simply abide by the rules your parents or grandparents likely taught you: turn off lights for rooms you’re not using, unplug appliances instead of leaving them plugged in, don’t let the faucet run when you brush your teeth – basically, if you’re doing something that you know your mom would get annoyed at you for wasting resources, then stop doing it.
When You Have a Dumb Home, Not a Smart One
Having a smart home, or even just the latest smart home devices, is not required to utilize OhmConnect’s services, though it does help you qualify for some pretty nice rebates down the line, so it’s definitely worth considering buying a smart device or two.
While using OhmConnect, your utility service will not be disturbed or affected, and you can end your service at any time. But again, it’s completely free to use, so why not give it a try for a couple of weeks and see what kind of energy and monetary savings you can garner?
Let us know in the comments your best money-and-energy-saving tips and tricks to do your part in bettering the world.