How to Get Paid to Unplug the TV If You Live in California

Scenes from Santa Monica, Calif., photographed on Monday, May 21, 2018.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder
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Have you ever heard of getting paid to save energy?

Earning cash when you switch off the lights, unplug the TV and pause the laundry cycle for a few hours each week?

It sounds too good to true, but it’s possible with OhmConnect, an energy-saving program for Californians.

Still not convinced? We talked with John Hastie, a San Diego resident who has earned up to $487 a month through the platform. Then there’s Tanya Williams, a stay-at-home mom who earned an extra $1,700 in 2017. She turned saving energy into a game with her kids.

So now you’re wondering: How does OhmConnect work? Can I just turn off my lights right now and make some money? Not exactly, but it’s almost that simple.

Here’s how you’ll get started:

  1. Sign up for a free OhmConnect account and sync it with your online utility account through Pacific Gas & Electric Co., San Diego Gas & Electric or Southern California Edison.
  2. Once or twice a week, you’ll receive a text message to participate in an #OhmHour, an hour of reduced energy consumption. Turn down unnecessary lights, hold off on doing the laundry or the dishes, and opt for a fan instead of the A/C. It’s the perfect time to go outside, play games on your phone, or go to the movies.
  3. OhmConnect then pays you for reducing your electricity consumption during #OhmHours.

So… why is OhmConnect willing to pay you?

OhmHours typically occur during times of peak energy usage (think: weekday evenings when everyone’s getting home from work). Rather than tapping into expensive (and dirty!) peaker plants (basically back-up plants for high-demand hours), utility companies offer an incentive to customers who cut back on energy consumption.

The money the utility company saves by avoiding these peaker plants is passed back to you, the customer, who so diligently saved during that high-demand time.

Your earnings are based on how much power you save. The more you save, the higher your OhmConnect status, which helps you earn even more.

To date, OhmConnect has paid its users $9 million.

Once you’re approved, you can start earning points, for your energy savings, which translate to cash. 

Not only are you helping save the world, you’re also earning some money along the way!

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.