Author Topic: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times  (Read 17050 times)

TypicalVillain

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This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« on: April 14, 2016, 09:58:50 AM »
This is very cool and rather Mustachian. OhmConnect (see Wired article here) is a startup paying people to reduce their power usage during peak times, when utilities have to switch to using more natural gas and coal. Eek! (See a deeper discussion on Vox about the problems with California's energy grid.) Anyway, OhmConnect hooks up to your utility account and if you reduce your usage during that hour, they pay you! I've made about $10 this month, nothing huge, but it's good for the earth :) You'll earn more if you have a bigger house.

Oh and if you sign up with my link we both get $20 (higher sign up bonus for April only).

Note that you can even automatically reduce power by connecting your smart devices (Nest, etc). FAQ: https://www.ohmconnect.com/faq.

Edit: Currently California only, sorry!
« Last Edit: April 15, 2016, 02:25:57 PM by TypicalVillain »

HenryDavid

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2016, 06:38:24 PM »
Wow. This has long been the deal in Europe, and to some degree in Canada.
It's the reason your dishwasher or clothes washer has a button that allows you to set it to run in 2, 4, or 6 hours from now.
When the power is cheaper.
Isn't that just . . .  normal?

TypicalVillain

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2016, 09:16:54 PM »
Wow. This has long been the deal in Europe, and to some degree in Canada.
It's the reason your dishwasher or clothes washer has a button that allows you to set it to run in 2, 4, or 6 hours from now.
When the power is cheaper.
Isn't that just . . .  normal?
Sadly in America we have a selfish culture, people feel they are entitled to things (especially, things they don't need!). But the good news is that I think things are slowly changing, young people are more empathetic (witness: gay marriage is now legal!).

AZDude

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2016, 10:25:50 AM »
Utilities here in AZ have the time of use plan, which makes power more expensive during peak energy using times(2PM to 6PM). Of course, you would be doubly insane for running the dryer or dishwasher during that time since it is both more expensive for the power AND it heats up your home even more(causing either more AC or a hotter home).


Another Reader

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2016, 10:49:38 AM »
I looked into this when this company first started.  You will make more if you work directly with the utility, PG&E, using one of their plans.  This company is basically an aggregating middleman and skims some of your savings as its revenue.

robartsd

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2016, 11:15:17 AM »
Utilities here in AZ have the time of use plan, which makes power more expensive during peak energy using times(2PM to 6PM). Of course, you would be doubly insane for running the dryer or dishwasher during that time since it is both more expensive for the power AND it heats up your home even more(causing either more AC or a hotter home).
I know that SMUD here in Sacramento offers a time of use plan. It used to be 6 hours/day at the high price (2-8 PM in the summer, 7-10AM and 5-8PM in the winter), but they recently changed it to 12 hours/day (9 AM to 9 PM with and additional bump in price 4 PM to 7 PM in the Summer). They also had a program that you could opt into that would turn off power to your central air conditioner for up to an hour during peak demand (not sure if this program has been phased out). SMUD is considering making time of use the standard residential plan. I wonder how time of use plans and OhmConnect's program might interact with each other.

Vanguards and Lentils

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2016, 11:16:13 AM »
This company is basically an aggregating middleman and skims some of your savings as its revenue.

That could describe any number of innovative and useful companies. I'd do it if my electric company didn't offer a time of use plan, and ohmconnect were in my area.

redbird

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2016, 11:33:16 AM »
Interesting. I'd look into it if I was in a state that had it. But I don't right now.

My power company is strange. I'm on their standard plan. They do have a time of use plan that makes electricity a few cents cheaper per kwH on non-peak hours than what I'm paying, but the peak hours expense goes up so much that it's not worth it. It would be worth it if you worked or were otherwise out of the house during all of the peak hours, but since I'm FIRE, it doesn't save me money - in fact, that other plan would actually make my electric costs go up. But I tend to only spend $50-60/month in electric at the worst anyways.

TypicalVillain

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2016, 01:33:50 PM »
I looked into this when this company first started.  You will make more if you work directly with the utility, PG&E, using one of their plans.  This company is basically an aggregating middleman and skims some of your savings as its revenue.
Is there any reason why you can't do both?
But also, OhmConnect is doing this much more visibly, getting you INSANT $$ after conserving energy, rather than seeing it at the end of the month on your bill (which many people don't even look at). They even send you a text during those times so you know exactly when to do it.

BlueHouse

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2016, 02:00:37 PM »
My power company offers something like this, but they require me to allow them to install a device in my home. Further, I keep my thermostat at somewhat uncomfortable levels during the day when I'm not there and have it set to kick in after 6pm.  I kind of feel that if my A/C has been off all day and I come home at 6pm, I should be able to turn it on (not to 60, but at least to 80 or 85) in the evening when I return.  So if they could tell the difference between shutting off a power-hog's thermostat vs. shutting down mine, I would feel more comfortable with the idea.  But I don't think that's how it works.  Correct me if I'm wrong.

TypicalVillain

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2016, 06:37:47 PM »
So if they could tell the difference between shutting off a power-hog's thermostat vs. shutting down mine, I would feel more comfortable with the idea.  But I don't think that's how it works.  Correct me if I'm wrong.
Well, this company only monitors at specific times (one or two hours per week) when "peaker plants" turn on, which are only during very high demand. I think this exists separately, or in addition to, variable pricing done by energy companies. They pay you if you reduced below expected values at those times (based on your history). So for example I live in a duplex and don't use much power anyway so I don't get as much from each "OhmHour." But other people in larger houses who typically use more energy have much more they can reduce (and can get rewarded more!).

Not sure if that answers your question...

CATman

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2016, 07:24:11 PM »
Utilities here in AZ have the time of use plan, which makes power more expensive during peak energy using times(2PM to 6PM). Of course, you would be doubly insane for running the dryer or dishwasher during that time since it is both more expensive for the power AND it heats up your home even more(causing either more AC or a hotter home).

I live in Phoenix and actually like the time of use plan. When I'm home I tend to be a bit of a night owl so I'm always doing my cleaning and washing at night anyways. I feel like I'm getting away with robbery. Last year I made it to july without turning on the AC and even then it was only at night.

dragoncar

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2016, 09:43:23 PM »
I looked into this when this company first started.  You will make more if you work directly with the utility, PG&E, using one of their plans.  This company is basically an aggregating middleman and skims some of your savings as its revenue.

So I already have a time of use plan.  You are saying this won't work for me?

Another Reader

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2016, 10:00:02 PM »
Call your utility and ask them.  I could not get a straight answer from the OHM-Connect people.   PG&E offers a similar program here and did not acknowledge OHM-Connect's program.

http://www.pge.com/en/myhome/saveenergymoney/plans/smartrate/index.page?

Basically they are the same.

Yaeger

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2016, 10:17:11 PM »
Wow. This has long been the deal in Europe, and to some degree in Canada.
It's the reason your dishwasher or clothes washer has a button that allows you to set it to run in 2, 4, or 6 hours from now.
When the power is cheaper.
Isn't that just . . .  normal?
Sadly in America we have a selfish culture, people feel they are entitled to things (especially, things they don't need!). But the good news is that I think things are slowly changing, young people are more empathetic (witness: gay marriage is now legal!).

Entitled? Selfish? There's nothing entitled or selfish about it, we PAY for it! We pay for the more robust infrastructure to prevent rolling brownouts and blackouts during the day, and we pay for better service.

Another Reader

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2016, 10:18:03 PM »
This company is basically an aggregating middleman and skims some of your savings as its revenue.

That could describe any number of innovative and useful companies. I'd do it if my electric company didn't offer a time of use plan, and ohmconnect were in my area.

I don't see this company as useful if I can save substantially more money by dealing directly with PG&E.  Twenty percent off my electric bill is significant.  Now, if you can duplicate the discount by signing up for both, that would be worthwhile.

obstinate

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2016, 10:43:39 AM »
One upside of working with OhmConnect is that it is pure carrot. With PG&Es time of use plans, you could actually end up getting charged much more than the tiered use plan if for some reason you do need to use electricity during the peak times. So there's stick to go with the carrot.

With OhmConnect, as far as I can tell, there's no way your rate can go up. You just have an opportunity to capture some savings if you go to the extra effort.

It's interesting because I'm a bit of an energy nut. I have considered PGEs time of use plans. But their estimators all say they would end up costing me more. I don't know how this is possible, but I guess it is because we are already near the limits of saving. If OhmConnect can help us squeeze out a few more bucks, it would be worth it.

dragoncar

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2016, 02:47:36 PM »
One upside of working with OhmConnect is that it is pure carrot. With PG&Es time of use plans, you could actually end up getting charged much more than the tiered use plan if for some reason you do need to use electricity during the peak times. So there's stick to go with the carrot.

With OhmConnect, as far as I can tell, there's no way your rate can go up. You just have an opportunity to capture some savings if you go to the extra effort.

It's interesting because I'm a bit of an energy nut. I have considered PGEs time of use plans. But their estimators all say they would end up costing me more. I don't know how this is possible, but I guess it is because we are already near the limits of saving. If OhmConnect can help us squeeze out a few more bucks, it would be worth it.

Yeah, I'm worried about this.  I signed up for TOU because the calculator estimated moderate savings. But things can change, like the fact that I might have more visitors during the summer days.  I never use AC, but it's possible having people in the house will push us over the limit.  Pure carrot would be really nice.  However, PGE is going to phase everyone into TOU in a few years anyways so it probably doesn't make much difference in the long run (couple hundred dollars?)

MsPeacock

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2016, 03:28:58 PM »
The power company here has some similar programs. One is that on a "peak usage" day (typically during a heat wave) if you keep your use some percentage below your usual use you get a rebate/credit of some sort. I signed up but the problem was that I turn off the A/C and such when I am not home, so  my useage on these days can't get any lower than it already is (short of turning off the fridge, which I am not willing to do). So, I've gained nothing from that particular program.

Other programs include ones that cycle the A/C less often (they come attach some meter or something) to save energy on certain days - I haven't noticed any effect of this when I am home on weekends.

In terms of peak use hours - it is easy enough now w/ most appliances to set them to run a couple hours after you go to bed. However, I find some peak use hard to avoid - like the water heater for showers, stove, adjusting the heat/ or a/c when I get home from work so the house isn't sweltering/freezing.

obstinate

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2016, 05:41:01 PM »
However, PGE is going to phase everyone into TOU in a few years anyways so it probably doesn't make much difference in the long run (couple hundred dollars?)
Is this true? I have heard nothing about it.

dragoncar

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2016, 10:47:48 PM »
However, PGE is going to phase everyone into TOU in a few years anyways so it probably doesn't make much difference in the long run (couple hundred dollars?)
Is this true? I have heard nothing about it.

 Haven't read the whole thing, but supposedly this proposed rule recently passed:

http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M153/K024/153024891.PDF

I think it just makes TOU default by 2019, but I wouldn't be surprised if they have a phase out plan for e1 tiered customers (they are already flattening the tiers)

zhelud

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2016, 12:13:34 PM »
Our power company in VA gives you a rebate if you let them install a device on your a/c unit that allows them to turn off the compressor for short periods on the hottest summer days, which saves a lot of electricity.  We have had this device for a few years now and the program works great- the a/c fan continues to run so the house doesn't actually get hotter during those 10-15 minute periods. (DH works at home and has never been uncomfortable on those hot afternoons)


dragoncar

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2016, 01:13:20 PM »
Our power company in VA gives you a rebate if you let them install a device on your a/c unit that allows them to turn off the compressor for short periods on the hottest summer days, which saves a lot of electricity.  We have had this device for a few years now and the program works great- the a/c fan continues to run so the house doesn't actually get hotter during those 10-15 minute periods. (DH works at home and has never been uncomfortable on those hot afternoons)

PGE will give you like $15 one time to install this.  Doesn't seem worth it to me.  They claim it doesn't impair the unit, but if that's the case why don't ac units already come with this technology installed?

BlueHouse

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2016, 01:27:02 PM »
Our power company in VA gives you a rebate if you let them install a device on your a/c unit that allows them to turn off the compressor for short periods on the hottest summer days, which saves a lot of electricity.  We have had this device for a few years now and the program works great- the a/c fan continues to run so the house doesn't actually get hotter during those 10-15 minute periods. (DH works at home and has never been uncomfortable on those hot afternoons)
does this take into account the current temp in your home before they shut down the compressor?  if my home is already 85, will they shut it off because of the time of day?  or is there more intelligence built in?

robartsd

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2016, 02:12:20 PM »
does this take into account the current temp in your home before they shut down the compressor?  if my home is already 85, will they shut it off because of the time of day?  or is there more intelligence built in?
I doubt it takes into account the current indoor temperature. They respond to current load on the electrical grid (not time of day - though peak load times are fairly predictable). The devices I've heard of from power companies never leave the compressor off for more than an hour (often quite a bit less). I imagine that they would not trigger it on a system that is not on, so if you come home and turn on the AC, you'd probably get some cooling before potential cycling; but if you came home to a system that was maintaining 85 and turn down the thermostat, it might have to wait for cooling.

I'm a red panda

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #25 on: April 19, 2016, 02:14:19 PM »
Wow. This has long been the deal in Europe, and to some degree in Canada.
It's the reason your dishwasher or clothes washer has a button that allows you to set it to run in 2, 4, or 6 hours from now.
When the power is cheaper.
Isn't that just . . .  normal?

Our power costs the same no matter what time we use it.  Other places I've lived have been different.

I use that button so it runs when I'm asleep :)

TypicalVillain

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #26 on: May 04, 2016, 01:19:49 PM »
Our power company in VA gives you a rebate if you let them install a device on your a/c unit that allows them to turn off the compressor for short periods on the hottest summer days, which saves a lot of electricity.  We have had this device for a few years now and the program works great- the a/c fan continues to run so the house doesn't actually get hotter during those 10-15 minute periods. (DH works at home and has never been uncomfortable on those hot afternoons)
That's a really cool idea! I think the OhmConnect concept is to take this to the next level. They directly interface with any home automation stuff you have - Nest, electric vehicle, smart devices etc. Automatically turning them off when grid demand is too high. Just imagine if they could do this with office buildings, streetlights, etc. Small reductions everywhere could massively smooth out power demand, which is really helpful for renewables (which can't scale).

TypicalVillain

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Re: This company will pay you to reduce power during peak times
« Reply #27 on: June 11, 2017, 04:42:35 PM »
They've updated this program quite a bit in the last year:

- Streak bonuses - get an extra 5% for each OhmHour you participate in, which increases each time (I'm currently at 55%)
- Reduction bonuses. If you reduce by at least 20% for the last 10 OhmHours you get a 2x bonus, and if you get 40% you get a 4x bonus. (This stacks with the streak bonus so now it's possible to get $10-20 per OhmHour or more!)
- "Tokens" for participating in these events including entries in a contest to win a Tesla
- Expanded to some utilities in Texas and Toronto

Overall I think it's a good way to make a few extra bucks AND help fight climate change.