We know you’re all interested in learning how to save as much energy as possible during #OhmHours. Last week, we shared some #OhmHour tips and tricks from the OhmConnect team. This week, we’re featuring a spotlight interview with one of our veteran users and super savers, David S.
Below, David S. shares his thoughts on making the most of OhmConnect in an interview with Kate, our Community Manager.
Kate: David, how long have you been using OhmConnect?
David: I signed up for OhmConnect two years ago. Initially I was a passive participant and in the last six months I’ve taken a much more active approach to see if I can save every time and have a positive impact for the environment and the gird.
Kate: How did you learn about OhmConnect? What interested you?
David: I learned about OhmConnect through an electric car charging and a sub-meter pilot program with SDGE in 2014. I’m definitely supportive of sustainability. I drive 100% electric, have solar electric on my house and I have an aquaponics system where I farm catfish, tilapia, fruits and vegetables in my backyard.
Kate: What’s your average baseline?
David: Good question. I think it’s relatively high. We are a family of four with excess solar energy. That’s one reason I got the electric car — to use the surplus energy that we produce.
Kate: It looks like your baseline during evening hours ranges between 2-4 kWh. Do you have a sense for the hours you consume the most electricity?
David: Definitely late afternoon and evening. During the day I’m a net-producer (which means, because of my solar panels, I produce more energy than I use). From looking at our online SDGE usage graphs it looks like we have a base load of 250 watts– stuff thats always running. From 5:30 to 7am it averages 400 watts. But then the solar kicks in and we produce an average of 700 watts an hour from 9 to 5. After that, usage goes up significantly until 10pm or so–to about 500 watts, on average. These numbers are all per hour averages.
Kate: During the #OhmHour on 10/2 at 6pm in your area, you managed to save more than 1 kWh. That’s fantastic. How many devices were turned off during this time? What’s normally running in your house at 6pm?
David: I turned off my aquaponics systems which run from 7am to 7pm daily and draw 160 watts. That’s two small water pumps and a few air pumps. The air pumps are on a battery backup to keep my fish alive. I also turned off the landscape lighting (60 watts), The entertainment center, which draws 60 watts even though we’re not using anything; and the central air, even though it wasn’t very hot that day. All of that is automatic with my smart switches. Other than that, I check to make sure lights and devices I’m not using are off if I’m home. That’s what I love about Wiser devices: they are automatically turned off and on during #OhmHours, and I can tell exactly how much energy is used during any given hour or day on a specific circuit.
Kate: That’s great! Sounds like you’re very conscious about when your peak energy use takes place, and of your consumption in general. What’s the easiest method you have found to save energy during #OhmHours other than using automated devices like smart plugs or thermostats?
David: How you save depends on your lifestyle. At first, I just let #OhmHours happen to see how it worked. I didn’t put too much thought into how to save. But over time, it’s made me more conservation-minded, and reduced my overall baseline. Now, for an #OhmHour, I turn off things that use energy all the time or use a lot of energy (think refrigerator, A/C, heaters, electric water heater, etc). Then, if it’s convenient, I’ll look at the small stuff, like TVs and such. Even my toaster draws 8 watts just being plugged in. For a large home with a large baseline that’s small stuff, perhaps not worth the effort, but that awareness can really make a difference if you have a naturally low baseline.
You’d be surprised how much ALL the little things add up. That’s where power strips come in handy for turning off the entertainment center, laptop and phone chargers, etc. – you don’t have to unplug them one at a time. Just flick it off during an #OhmHour and you can easily save more than you’d think!
Kate: Great suggestions. Here’s another question: how do you convince members of your household to participate? I know I’ve got a roommate who’s not always thrilled when the TV turns off during one of his favorites shows…
David: To be honest, my family thinks I’m crazy – mad scientist kinda thing – so they give me the eyeroll and a sigh pretty quickly. I think the best way to convince them was when I cashed out $20 in points all from saving energy with OhmConnect. My wife appreciates that all the switches I bought were paid for mostly using points, not dollars. I was able to take my OhmConnect earnings and purchase something useful!
Also, recently, my wife and daughter did ask that I add their phone numbers so they know when we have an event. I can sense they’re getting more into the spirit…or else they want to know when the lights will go out!
Kate: That’s what I like to hear! I’ve heard that families with young children can really get into the spirit… Tell me: When did you start automating your home? What devices do you have?
David: I bought my first two smart switches and an Ecobee3 thermostat this past spring when I saw them in the OhmConnect Store. I had a lot of points from #OhmHours, and the out-of-pocket expense was pretty low. Now I have four Wiser smart switches. I also have a WeMo and a TP-Link switch.
Kate: You’re doing well! During one of your recent #OhmHours, you saved more than 1 kWh below your expected usage. That’s exactly what we’re hoping users can achieve! Thanks so much for sharing your tips with us!
Want to chat with David, Kate and other community members about reducing energy? Head over to our Community and join the conversation.