By reducing electricity demand during peak hours, OhmConnect and smart home devices can put money back in your pocket.
The coming Internet of Things (IoT) promises to offer a brave new world of remote monitoring, control, and automation of our devices, and while some of these connected devices can help with conservation of resources, many other IoT applications, instead of solving a problem, are more like a solution in search of a problem. These devices may not do much, if anything, to help reduce our environmental impact, and could actually contribute to our overconsumption problem instead.
However, there are IoT devices that are designed to help us get a better handle on our home utilities, and some can even go beyond helping us understand and manage our consumption, thanks to an innovative platform called OhmConnect, which can effectively put money back in our pocket while working to reduce the strain on the grid.
OhmConnect is a free service that acts somewhat like a virtual power plant, except that instead of generating energy, it works with the user's devices to reduce demand at times when electricity consumption is at a peak, which can help utilities to avoid having to bring a 'peaker plant' online to cover the extra demand. Users can sign up and connect their smart home devices through the platform, and then during peak demand events, which can happen several times per week, and which the company calls "OhmHours," users are directed to reduce their electricity consumption, in exchange for which they earn points that can be cashed in for money.
Essentially, users are paid for reducing their electricity use during specific times, and can earn up to $300 per year for doing so. Specific connected smart devices can be set up to be automated to work with OhmConnect, so that when an OhmHour event happens, the switches, thermostats, and EV chargers connected to the service will automatically switch off (and then back on again after the event is over).
"During an #OhmHour, the electricity grid needs power. The grid can either turn on a dirty and expensive power plant or we can reduce our electricity usage. By turning off unused lights, appliances and unplugging batteries, we prevent a power plant from turning on.
The people who operate the grid would rather pay us to turn down instead of paying a dirty power plant to turn on. It's cheaper and produces less pollution.
OhmConnect manages your reductions with the grid operators in California to pass along those savings to you."
OhmConnect just launched its first online store, offering the Nest Learning Thermostat, the Ecobee thermostat, two different electric vehicle chargers, and two bundles of smart plugs and switches (one for smaller devices, and the other for EV chargers, pool pumps, or hot water heaters), all at deep discounts, as well as with cash rebates. The IoT devices in the OhmConnect store are currently priced up to 76% lower than retail, and can be a gift that keeps on giving, thanks to the platform's rebate system.
You don't have to have an IoT device connected to the platform in order to participate, as all it takes is a smart meter (which many already have on their home), but users will have to manually switch off their appliances in order to reduce demand during OhmHours.
Currently, the OhmConnect service is only available in the state of California, for customers of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric, but according to the company, the service's thousands of current users have already collectively reduced energy use by a factor of megawatts.