Going green is not only good for the environment. It can also save you—and in some cases earn you—green. One example is San Diego resident John Hastie, who is using a local energy saving program that pays local residents cash when they decrease their energy use during peak periods. This type of program has been used by utility companies for years with their large commercial customers, but is now available to residential customers in some areas. The program Hastie signed up for, OhmConnect, helps consumers who live in an average-sized residence earn up to $200 per year in extra cash. But Hastie has found out how to maximize the program's potential and earned close to $500 during his best month.
How OhmConnect Works
Customers sign up with OhmConnect and earn cash rewards when they reduce their energy use during #OhmHours, the hours when demand peaks. These include the hottest part of the day, when people are using their air conditioners most, or in the evenings, when people are home from work and are making dinner, watching TV or gaming. Customers receive a text from the service alerting them to the upcoming #OhmHours, which only come around two or three times per week. Hastie started small, earning roughly $27 his first month on OhmConnect. Then he began experimenting with new ways to save on electricity, such as adding smart plugs to his appliances and thermostat. Within five months, he had gotten so good at saving electricity that he earned a paycheck one month of $487.52. Referring friends at $20 each and hitting bonus levels helped Hastie increase his payback and earn prizes (such as gift cards). People using OhmConnect can also donate their savings to a charity. Even if your payout is small, when added to the donations of thousands of others, it can really add up. OhmConnect is currently only available in select areas, for customers of California's Pacific Gas & Energy, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and Toronto Hydro. There's currently a bonus (through September 4, 2017), that nets you $80 in cash and a $250 smart thermostat when you refer four people to the program.
How To Save Money On Utility Bills
Even if you're not eligible for programs like OhmConnect, you can still cut your monthly utility bills and bank those monthly savings:
Turn off Vampires
When you're not using them, unplug phone chargers, coffee makers, alarm clocks in guest bedrooms, home entertainment systems, computers (including cable boxes and DVRs), home office printer/copiers/scanner and counter-top microwave ovens.
Use Smart Power Strips
These turn off electronics when they detect no use after a specific period (in case you forget).
Get a Programmable Thermostat
Do you cool and heat your home to the same temperature the 16-18 hours you're sleeping or away at work? Programmable thermostats let you wake up to a warm or cool home and arrive to a comfortable house or apartment by raising or lowering temperatures at times you pre-select.
Heat Less Water
Wash most clothes and your dishes in cold water. Lower your water heater by one degree every few days until you hit the perfect temperature for washing hands and taking showers. Aim for a starting point of 120 degrees.
Switch to energy efficient lighting, including during the holidays. Don't use the same watt bulb for every lamp or light fixture (e.g., use brighter lights for reading and lower-watt bulbs for hallways).
Use Less Water
Invest in low-flow toilets and shower heads. You might qualify for a cash rebate when installing a low-flow toilet, which can also pay for itself in water savings in roughly three years. Water landscaping once per week to a depth of 1 inch, rather than multiple, shorter waterings per week. You'll use less water and your roots will grow deeper.
- Clean the lint filters on your dryer and outside your home to make your dryer work less hard.
- Don't use the heated drying setting on your dishwasher.
- Change your HVAC filters every three months for cleaner air and better unit performance.
- Use drapes to heat and cool your home (based on when you leave them open or closed).
- Check your attic insulation to make sure you have enough.
- Install, use and rotate ceiling fan direction twice each year for more efficient heating and cooling.
- Turn off lights each time you leave a room.
- Close fireplaces when they're not being used during the winter.
- Don't heat and cool the outdoors—seal drafty and leaky doors and windows.
[h/t: The Penny Hoarder]