How I’ve strengthened my family bonds while saving electricity AND earning money in the process… say what?!
That’s a mouthful, but it’s true.
You might be an expert multi-tasker if…
… you strengthen your bond with your kids…
…. while reducing your power bill….
… AND earn money at the same time!
(Not quite there yet? Don’t worry! I’ll show you how. 😉)
Summer means warmer temperatures, which usually means higher electricity bills. But, it doesn’t have to!
Despite warmer temperatures, I’ve actually REDUCED my electricity bill over the same period last year. How?
(This post contains affiliate links. This means, if you join or make a purchase, I may receive a small commission for referring you. Thank you!! Your support helps me support my family.)
It all started with a company called OhmConnect, which is a company that monitors the power grid usage, predicts when it’ll be maxed, and sends out notices about an upcoming #ohmhour, which is when they need to you reduce your electricity use (just for an hour!).
This reduces the strain on the power grid.
In return, aside from using less electricity (which already reduces your bill), you’ll earn points and tokens, which can be cashed out for money (via PayPal) or gift certificates (Target and Amazon). Buddy up and earn even more points and tokens!
Try OhmConnect and earn $10 simply for giving it a try. They’ll give you another $10 for sticking around and reaching a higher level. You can also have a chance to win prizes and giveaways!
Want to check it out?
Find out more here AND receive $10 just for checking it out.
How does this connect to quality time with my kids?
We turn off all the electronics we can (no TV, turning on a fan instead of the AC, etc.). Then, we play board games, go for a walk, have a picnic dinner outside, or maybe even occasionally snuggle up and watch Netflix on the iPad.
Doing this a few times a week (you can choose how frequently you get #ohmhours, but the minimum is once a week) adds up to a lot of good quality family bonding time! Thank you, OhmConnect for paying me to enjoy time with my little ones, and sometimes encouraging us to be more creative with how we spend our time. We appreciate it and have come to look forward to our weekly #ohmhours!
So, maybe you’re not interested in participating in #ohmhours or maybe your utility company isn’t part of it. That doesn’t mean you can’t reduce your electricity use and save money that way this summer!
Smart plugs to the rescue!
Did you know that anything you have plugged in uses electricity, even when it’s not in use?
It might be a small amount of electricity being used, but all that little bit here and there adds up. Smart plugs help reduce this phantom energy use by turning off an outlet/plug when not in use. As an added bonus, some connect with Google Home or Alexa, so you can turn on lights through Alexa or Google OR the app for the smart plug. This helps when you’re not home and want to start your crockpot (or maybe not if you’re a This is Us fan!) or if you’re on vacation and want to make it appear like you’re home by having the lights set to a timer.
Features of Smart Plugs
Different smart plugs have different features in the apps and whether or not they connect with Alexa or Google, but other than that, they’re all about the same in how they work- turn on/off power to an outlet to conserve electricity or turn on/off devices remotely. Some have double plugs to expand your outlet, allowing you to plug two devices into the same smart plug. Others also have on/off buttons on the plug itself, which is really handy.
Some of the apps allow you to program the plug to be off at certain times. This could help monitor a child’s computer/light/TV usage (if the smart plug turns it off at, say 9pm) or it could help save energy if you know you don’t use the monitor and lights in the office from 10pm-6am because you simply have the plug “off” during those hours, saving you electricity.
Take it a step further and invest in a smart thermostat.
These things are awesome! With a smart thermostat, you can control the temperature of your home from almost anywhere. Going camping for the weekend? Turn up the AC so that it barely comes on, but when you’re on your way home, turn the AC down so that your house will be nice and cool when you walk in.
I have an EcoBee 3, which I love. It’s a touch screen, easy to use, the app is easy to set up and install. I can monitor my usage and change it without leaving the couch or running inside. There’s no more leaving the house for the day, wondering if I forgot to adjust the thermostat. Plus, it’s programmable, so I can have it automatically adjust the temperature based on our needs, like when we’re home and what what time of day it is. They even have sensors you can put in other rooms to help keep the house an even temperature, which is great because we have 2 rooms that are difficult to get the right temperature. I’ve also heard great things about the Nest thermostat.
If you’re local (I’m in Northern California) and a PG&E customer, you need to check out the Residential Energy Fitness Program. The guys that came out were nice, knowledgeable, friendly, and respectful. They switched out my regular light bulbs for LEDs, tuned up my air conditioner, just in time for summer, installed the new EcoBee 3 thermostats, and gave me a power strip for my TV that helps turn off power to the TV, DVD player, etc when they’re not in use, but leaves my router on. And, it was all FREE. Yup, you read that right. Completely FREE as part of the PG&E program.
Other ways to save electricity this summer
- Open the windows early in the morning to cool the house down before it gets too hot outside (free air conditioning!).
- Unplug things that are not in use (coffee maker used all day? Leave it plugged in. Coffee maker only used in the morning? Unplug it after you pour your coffee).
- Use fans instead of the air conditioning. Circulating the air in a room is said to make a room feel about 4 degrees cooler.
- Program your thermostat. This prevents you from needing to remember to turn it up/down and wasting electricity cooling the house to 72 when you’re gone all day.
- Do laundry and run the dishwasher late at night or first thing in the morning so that you’re not heating up the house and using electricity during peak times.
- Consider what you’re having for dinner and how it’s cooked. Batch cooking and only using the oven a few times a week could keep your house cooler AND save you time with meal prep.
Does your power company have reports for you to look at? Do they have audits or surveys that they offer to help you figure out how to conserve electricity a bit to help out the environment and lower your bill? Often times, on their websites, there are more tips for reducing home energy bills.
Wondering what to do during an #ohmhour?
- Play a board game.
- Have a picnic dinner (indoors or outside).
- Do an art project.
- Go for a walk or for a bike ride.
- Play at the park.
- Have a water balloon fight.
- Build a puzzle.
- Do a STEM activity with your kids (marble run, block towers, build a race track for toy cars, gears, etc.).
- Take a nap.
- Play games on a tablet.
- Go about your normal activities, simply using the least amount of electronics and lights as you can.
- Sit on the patio and watch the sunset, birds, kids play, etc.
The strategies mentioned in this post- #ohmhour, smart plugs, and smart thermostats are how I’ve drastically reduced our electricity useage from this same time last year.
Talk about a major savings, PLUS OhmConnect pays me to reduce our usage when they tell me!
Remember, you can always do your own “#ohmhours,” and use as little electricity as you can for an hour while having fun focusing all your attention on your family. Your relationship with your family will thank you, as will your utility bill. 🙂