Beating Your Forecast: Three Steps for #OhmHour Success
There are many factors that influence electricity consumption in the home, and it’s difficult to guarantee #OhmHour success. However, if you follow a few key principles and know some tips and tricks, you can get pretty darn good at it.
We know the feeling. “I spent that entire #OhmHour reading by candlelight, but my usage was still pretty high! What am I missing?”
There are many factors that influence electricity consumption in the home, and it’s difficult to guarantee #OhmHour success. However, if you follow a few key principles and know some tips and tricks, you can get pretty darn good at it. This page is here to help you get started on your journey toward #OhmHour mastery.
Step 1: Understand Your Forecast.
As you know, #OhmHour performance is determined by how much energy you save below your forecast. Your forecast represents how much energy the grid operators are expecting you to use – in fact, they’re counting on it. By beating your forecast, you help out the grid by creating an energy surplus that can be used elsewhere. For more background on forecasts, check out our blog post on the topic here.
The first thing every #OhmHour savant must understand is how to interpret the forecast. This means subscribing to the #OhmHour email notifications, which give you an estimate of what your forecast is likely to be during each #OhmHour. (Note: As explained in another blog post, we can’t predict your forecast with 100% accuracy – but we’ll get you in the ballpark.)
Pay attention to your forecast over time and get familiar with what a typical forecast is for your home. Your forecast might be different on weekends compared to weekdays, or during times when you’re usually home vs. times you’re typically away. If you see a forecast for the next #OhmHour that looks really high compared to normal, that means this event is a great opportunity for you to earn a lot of points. If your forecast looks low, you’re going to have to try extra hard to beat it. (Again, remember the email forecast is just an estimate, so to be safe you should always save as much as possible.)
Important note: When comparing forecasts, remember to take into account the number of hours in each #OhmHour event! If an #OhmHour is scheduled for 2 or 3 hours instead of 1, you can expect your forecast – as well as your actual usage – to be 2-3x your typical one-hour average.
Step 2: Turn Off What Is Often Running.
If something in your home is usually on, it probably contributes to your forecast – and turning it off can help you beat that forecast.
Your heating and cooling system is the biggest culprit. Heating and cooling combined make up the single largest use of energy in most American homes. Air conditioning is the biggest draw, but fan and heating play a big role too. By hooking up a smart thermostat to OhmConnect, or by turning your thermostat off manually during #OhmHours, you’re taking a big step toward success. If turning it all off is unbearable, do whatever you can to use less. Set the AC to 78 instead of 72 on a hot day, or cycle it on and off every 15 minutes.
Next up is your lights. Do a run through the house to turn off extra lights (or have your kids do it – it can actually be a lot of fun). Incandescent bulbs use much more than compact fluorescents (CFLs) or LEDs, so turn those off first.
Perhaps the most consistent draw of electricity in the home is the refrigerator (and freezer). Refrigerators and freezers represent 10% of home electricity usage and are always on. But – they don’t need to be. As the FDA reports, a closed refrigerator will keep food cold for 4 hours (while a full freezer stays cold for 48). Many OhmConnect members and employees have boosted their #OhmHour batting average by putting their fridge on a smart plug that automatically turns off and then back on. We double check after the #OhmHour to make sure everything turned back on successfully, and if for some reason it doesn’t, we’ll notify you right away.
Finally, don’t forget about your electronics: TVs, entertainment systems, monitors, computers, etc. If you’re someone who uses these a lot, make sure they are off during the #OhmHour. Smart plugs are great for these appliances, too – especially because, believe it or not, many electronics still pull substantial power even when they are turned off. To really step up your #OhmHour game, unplug those power strips from the wall or put them on a smart plug. Power down and dust off that book you’ve been trying to finish. But be careful not to unplug your wireless internet router – OhmConnect needs your wifi to turn your devices back on.
Step 3: Avoid Turning Things On.
If you’ve turned off all the things that are usually on, you’re on your way to a win – unless you turn on certain energy-hog appliances. Many home appliances only run for a short amount of time, but when they’re on, they’re using a ton of energy.
A general rule of thumb is that anything that changing temperature requires a lot of energy. So, avoid turning on anything that heats things up or cools things down during an #OhmHour.
For example, we recommend waiting until the #OhmHour is over before turning on the following:
- Clothes dryer (4% of home electricity usage) and washer (1%)
- Space heaters, hair dryers, or plug-in air conditioning units
- Kitchen appliances (electric oven or stove, dishwasher, kettle, toaster, microwave)
- Anything that runs hot water (i.e. the shower, bath, or hot tub) if you have electric water heating
- Water pumps, fans or fountains (for you fancy folks out there)
So, how do I achieve a really big reduction? Like >1 kWh for a 1 hour event?
Now you know our best tips and tricks – and you also know that your forecast matters. To really hit an #OhmHour home run (an #OhmRun, you might say), you need a nice big forecast. So keep an eye on those #OhmHour emails, look for your opening, and get ready to pounce. This doesn’t mean you should opt-out if your forecast is low – on the contrary, a true #OhmHour savant puts in a strong effort every time and understands that the email is just an estimate. But she or he also knows that when that big juicy forecast comes along, it might be time to make the extra effort, be a little crazy, and really win big.
At the end of the day, consistent performance and effort is really the way to maximize earnings. Speaking of which…
What about really consistent reductions? Like 75% or 90% of all #OhmHours?
Being consistent means that you beat that forecast when it’s high and when it’s low. We recommend two key pathways to success:
- Automate. Let’s face it, sometimes you won’t be home or you might forget to turn some things off. The more smart devices you connect to OhmConnect, the easier it becomes to beat your baseline without a lot of manual effort. (And don’t forget all the great deals on smart home devices at the OhmConnect Store.)
- Know Your Battle. Watch your expected forecast closely – and notice when an #OhmHour is going to require that you go the extra mile. We know you can’t turn everything off in your whole home for every single event, and you don’t need to to be an #OhmHour master. But you do need to be able to recognize when it’s time to call out the cavalry.
So, there you go – now you have the #OhmHour starter tips from the OhmConnect Team. We encourage you to not stop here! If you have lessons to share from your own #OhmHours, or questions or ideas to bounce off other members, head to the forum to share and explore.
Go get ‘em, Ohmers!