Moving into my own apartment for the first time was one of the most exciting — and scary — things I’ve ever done.
It’s an immediate and radical feeling of freedom to finally have a space that is truly your own.
It can also lead to disaster, since 20-something college students (spoiler alert!) don’t know everything about being on their own yet.
Fortunately, my disaster was pretty mild, all things considered… but it didn’t feel like it at the time.
Sneaky Surges in Energy Costs
My disaster started with an action as innocuous as opening an envelope.
My electric bill was over $300. I’d budgeted for $100, tops.
I’d moved into my new place on the first day of August, and happily blasted my central air against the smothering Florida summer outside for a whole month.
Suddenly, I was sweating — despite the cool atmosphere I apparently was paying for so dearly.
You Can Get Paid to Use Less Energy
I was recently reminiscing about this college-age fumble with a high school friend of mine who’s since moved to California.
He mentioned something I wish I’d known about when I was figuring stuff out at 21.
Apparently, California residents can sync their utility accounts to a program called OhmConnect.
It actually helps them earn money for reducing their electricity consumption — in addition to the money they save by cutting back on power use. Members also earn points (i.e., dollars) for referrals and sharing, which helps make the whole California community more energy efficient!
OhmConnect’s designed to help you get just a little bit greener… and reward you for your efforts along the way.
Here’s how it works.
1. Sign up for OhmConnect and sync it with your online utility account through PG&E, SDG&E or Southern California Edison. You must have an online account with one of these electric companies to qualify for OhmConnect. You’ll earn your first $40 just for synching your account.
2. Receive energy usage notifications during “#OhmHours” — high-energy-consumption hours that trigger non-green power plants to activate in order to support the overtaxed grid.
3. Turn off your tv, lights, etc. until the #OhmHour is up.
4. Profit! OhmConnect rewards you up to $300/year for not contributing to the high demand that prompts unclean power sources to turn on.
It’s really that simple.
Plus, you’re helping save the planet.
How OhmConnect Rewards You For Greener Living
When members substantially decrease energy demand during #OhmHours, the CA electricity market, or California ISO, avoids turning on an expensive, dirty power plant… and pays OhmConnect instead.
Then, OhmConnect passes those savings back to consumers — you! — to incentivize green living.
The end result?
A naturally lower electricity bill, an easy and beneficial stream of passive income and a happier planet. Win, win, win.
Significantly reducing energy consumption enough to eradicate the need for power plants doesn’t have to be hard if the effort’s spread across California’s millions of residents.
#OhmHours only occur a couple of times a week, and you can easily reduce your energy consumption by just waiting a few minutes to charge your phone or dry your hair.
Save Energy, Get Rewarded
Once you’ve earned rewards, you can choose to cash out or donate directly to your favorite charity.
You can also directly connect OhmConnect with any smart energy devices you already have in your home, like the Nest thermostat.
Like we mentioned, this cool program only works for you Californians for now, and you have to have an online account with one of the electric companies mentioned above.
I’m hoping OhmConnect will be able to expand soon as it continues to catch on!
I don’t have a West-Coast move planned any time soon, so until the service expands, I guess I’ll just have to remember to turn my air conditioner off on my own. Good thing I’ve had lots of practice since my early twenties are disappearing in the rearview…
Your Turn: Have you ever gotten a shocking electricity bill? Will you use OhmConnect to earn a little extra cash while reducing your carbon footprint and your bill?
Disclosure: You wouldn’t believe how much coffee The Penny Hoarder team goes through. This post contains affiliate links so we can keep the grinds stocked!
Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She also writes other stuff, like wine reviews and poems.