Winter is on its way, a time of year when the days grow shorter, our electrical bills rise, and, for many homeowners, finding ways to save on energy spending becomes a particular priority.
But, cutting back on consumption can be challenging with increased heating costs, more time spent indoors, and fewer daylight hours to make the most of the sunlight.
For OhmConnect members, it means planning ahead when it comes to OhmHours exploring new and creative ways to unplug and power down.
Fortunately, that's where this blog post comes in handy. Keep reading for everything you need to know to prepare for winter energy savings.
Before we go any further, if you're new here, you might be wondering, what is an OhmHour anyway?
Well, think of an OhmHour as an energy-saving event that works to combat periods of peak electrical demand in your community.
Most of the time, electrical utilities are pretty good at predicting demand levels, ensuring enough power is available to provide a region with what they need. But, when demand surges unexpectedly, they rely on additional, less efficient power plants, often referred to as "peaking power plants," to ensure that demand is met.
While fast and effective, these peaking plants are terrible for the planet (producing 2-3 times more carbon emissions than a regular power plant), and they're more expensive to run, making them a significant drain on our bank accounts as well.
By powering down your devices and participating in an OhmHour, you can help your local community avoid turning on these dirty peaking plants, resulting in fewer carbon emissions for the planet, electrical bill savings for you, and quite a few fun rewards along the way — like gift cards to your favorite stores, a chance to win exclusive prizes and the option to donate your earnings to select charities!
During the winter months, the length and frequency of OhmHours begin to shift, moving away from the short and frequent summer events to limited but longer winter events that can last anywhere from two to four hours at a time.
With fewer opportunities to capitalize on energy savings and more time to fill when you do, planning ahead is essential to make the most of these power-saving events.
We recommend adding the following considerations to your Winter OhmHour Checklist!
Keeping your home comfortable and warm is priority number one during the winter season. However, with home heating systems accounting for more than 50 percent of our annual energy spending, giving our HVAC appliances a little break can also mean some significant savings during OhmHours.
When you know a winter OhmHour is on the horizon, consider bumping up your thermostat by a few degrees in the hours prior, preheating your home so that it can slowly drift down in temperature while you unwind, unplugged.
The reality is, during the winter months, we spend much of our time indoors — especially those of us living in particularly cold climates. But that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of fun ways to get outside and enjoy nature this time of year, no electricity required!
Bundle up, grab your loved ones, and try one of these activities during your next winter OhmHour.
Get your boots on, wrap up in a scarf, and hit the trails. Even if it's just a stroll around the block, the fresh air can feel great, and you'll have an extra pep in your step knowing your devices are powered down, saving you money back home.
Head outside for a snow sculpture competition! From the classic snowman to snow pets and snow monsters, it's a great chance to get creative on a sunny winter's day. You can even get the whole family involved and award prizes for different categories like most imaginative, biggest masterpiece, and most creative use of props from around the house!
The heating may be powered down at home, but that doesn't mean you can't warm things up outside. Grab some kindling, strike a match, and gather around for a winter bonfire! Bonus points if you bring chocolate and marshmallows for s'mores. Just make sure you're in a fire-friendly area!
If heading outdoors isn't an option, another good way to prepare for those winter OhmHours is by stocking up on unplugged entertainment — like board games, puzzles, and crafts!
Take inventory of what electricity-free activities you already have around the house — and if you're looking for a few fresh ideas, consider these!
Who says you need appliances to serve up a delicious meal? Energy-free dishes are a tasty way to avoid using kitchen appliances — plus, they double as a way to stay entertained while you while away your winter OhmHours.
Here are some of our favorites if you need a dose of culinary inspiration:
PRO TIP! Make things extra cozy with a candlelit table setting. It gives a touch of added ambiance *and* has the feel-good bonus of keeping your lights off for some additional energy savings!
Home heating may account for a massive portion of our winter energy usage, but it's not the only culprit you should watch out for during your OhmHours.
Here are a few other energy hogs you'll want to keep an eye on.
Next to your HVAC system and water heater, your refrigerator is probably the third biggest energy consumer in the house, and powering it down for a few hours is a simple way to minimize your energy consumption during an OhmHour!
Wait, power down your fridge? Yep, you read that right.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food can be stored safely in an unplugged fridge for up to four hours at a time, providing the door remains closed, which means even during your winter OhmHours, there's plenty of time to give your fridge a break!
When you know an OhmHour is on its way, consider lowering your fridge temperature by a few degrees a couple of hours before the event begins to keep things as cool as possible when you power down.
PRO TIP! Connect your fridge to a smart plug hooked up to your OhmConnect account so your device will automatically power down when the event begins and back up when it's finished! You can always turn this setting off on days when it's inconvenient.
Did you know that 75-90 percent of your dishwasher and laundry machine's energy use is directed at heating up the water? It's true!
When possible, things like cold water washes help, but doubling down by waiting to start your washing until after an OhmHour is finished is even better!
Computers, televisions, and video game consoles are sneaky consumers because, even though they may appear to be powered down, they're often still using electricity, waiting in standby mode for the next time they're in use.
Think about stocking up on smart plugs and connecting one to each of these devices for an easy way to ensure they're powered down during OhmHours. Extra points if you also schedule them to power down during the day when you're out of the house at work!
Haven't signed up for the OhmConnect rewards program yet? What are you waiting for? Now that you know how to make the most of winter OhmHours, all that's left to do is get started — and signing up is simple!
As a member, you'll receive an alert (via text or email) notifying you when OhmHours are about to begin, allowing you to power down and save! Just for participating, you'll earn Watts (think of them like energy-saving points) that qualify you for rewards, like those gift cards and prizes we mentioned earlier.
Plus, OhmConnect will take the power you save and sell it back to the grid, sharing those profits directly with YOU — it's a win-win!
The rewards program is currently available through the following link for California customers of PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E, as well as New York customers of Con Edison.
Those living in Texas can also access the program by signing up for one of OhmConnect’s very own low-cost, fixed-rate electricity plans. All the details you need for saving in the Lone Star State can be found right here. Stay cozy — and happy saving!
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