I have a “low baseline” in OhmConnect terms, meaning my home doesn’t use much energy. Here’s how I still earn big rewards.
Written by Brian Kooiman, a Senior Markets Analyst with a background in energy policy, economics, and engineering, who lives in San Francisco with his wife, Elise.
Plugs, plugs, and more plugs! Many people (my wife, for example) love to shop online for clothes and shoes. I like to shop online for more TP-Link smartplugs.
Currently, our household has five smartplugs connected to a multitude of devices. Most critically, we have a smartplug on our fridge -- it’s been there since our streak started. In fact, the only reason we have a streak (currently going strong at 94 in a row!) is because of this plug.
Since our apartment has such a low baseline, we went through some trial and error before determining that a significant portion of our electricity consumption came from this single appliance. Now, regardless of our baseline, as long as the fridge turns off we’ll beat our forecast.
Related Post: What's the best place to put my smartplug?
But we don’t just want to beat our forecast. We want to get as close to 0 kWh as possible!
To do this, we took another smart plug, and attached it to our DVR. The rest of our smart plugs are all plugged into devices that normally aren’t on, but when they are on they use a ton of power: the power strip that we use to charge our phones, the monitor for our desktop computer, and our fan. That way, if we ever forget about an #OhmHour, we’ll have those devices turn off so we don’t accidentally blow through our baseline.
If we are home during the #OhmHour, we like to take five minutes (okay, maybe more like thirty seconds -- it is, after all, a one-bedroom apartment) to quickly walk around and make sure we haven’t left a laptop plugged in. We’ll even sometimes unplug the internet, especially if we are planning on leaving the apartment for the hour.
A lot of our #OhmHours occur during dinner, so we try to be as flexible as possible with our cooking plan. We’ll either prep during the #OhmHour, or plan to quickly whip up something so that we can enjoy a nice meal by candlelight during the #OhmHour. Now that the days are getting longer, for those late evening #OhmHours we can use the sunlight to play board games or go for a stroll (and grab some ice cream on the way). And, when we’re just looking to lounge on our couch, we’ll use the hour to catch up on a couple of episodes of Friends.
Elise and I are huge college football fans, and so in the Fall and Winter much of our weekends are consumed by all-day trips down the Bay to tailgate and watch our team battle it out on the gridiron. This past season our favorite team made it into the conference championship game, where they happened to be matched up against one our rivals. This was, no exaggeration, the most important game of the season.
Even though the #OhmHour wasn’t until three hours after the game started, as we kept watching the clock we realized that there was no way the game was going to end before the #OhmHour began. The #OhmHour kicked in just as our team was driving down the field to score a touchdown -- we quickly refilled our salsa from the fridge, opened up another beverage, and streamed the rest of the game from our laptop. Luckily we managed to beat our forecast, which took the sting out of losing the game.
Elise and I had been building up a streak of about 10 or so right after they were introduced. However, we had already made dinner plans when we received an #OhmHour, and so we decided to opt out so we wouldn’t receive any negative points. But we didn’t realize that opting out ended the streak! So we ended up accidentally destroying our streak, and to top it all off we were still under our baseline even with all of the cooking we did. Needless to say, we have not opted out since.