OhmConnect Review 2021

 What is OhmConnect ?

How it works: OhmHours and AutoOhms 101

What’s an OhmHour, you might be wondering?

In short: The OhmHour is where the magic happens.

An OhmHour or an AutoOhm is a brief window of time (usually on weeknight evenings) when demand on the energy grid is so high that utility companies would rather pay their customers to reduce our collective usage than the alternative - firing up a dirty, expensive “peaker” plant.

It works like this:

  • Get notified: The utility lets us know that a time of intense demand is coming up and we notify you about it via an email or SMS
  • Reduce: OhmConnect community members reduce our energy usage by turning off lights, giving our thermostats a break and not using electronics. (The easiest way to do this is by having your thermostat connected and smart plugs attached to your home’s biggest energy hogs. More on that later.)
  • Get rewarded: If you’ve used less energy than you were forecasted to, you get rewarded with Watts, the currency you can use in our Rewards Marketplace.

For a deeper dive into the mechanics of how OhmHours work, check out this guide.

Source: https://www.ohmconnect.com/how-it-works

Our Experience

The first google search after hearing about OhmConnect was "Is OhmConnect a scam". It sounds too good to be true. They however checked out and our goals seemed to be aligned. Linking the account to the utility took ~7 days. The system worked great - a text/email was sent out for an event. I would power down and get rewarded with points, which could be redeemed through paypal for $. The referrals system at the time paid about $20 each. I was happy to refer friends and family to a company and system that was working towards a goal I believed in. 

There were only a small number of  OhmEvents during 2020 (when I joined). Rewards and points were as promised. Reward size was based on what percentage from the baseline one was able to reduce during an Ohmhour. I was already a low power user, so my baseline was already low and my points were minimal. 

They then introduced AutoOhms, which were short 15 minute events, that would auto-power off/on devices that were linked/opted-in into their system. These devices could be purchased from their store or on Amazon and was a great way to be hands-off. Wifi switch devices earned 15 cents for 15 min. Simple and easy, and it worked great. There were discrepancies in the data or real world and their dashboard and reporting. 

Later they introduced a subscription service at $5 per month, which did not make an sense to me. This appeared to be start of the monetization phase.

The new system (2021)

A new system was rolled out in Fed/Mar 2021, with no notice to users. All previous data was unavailable for export or download. Fortunately, I grabbed a download of my data and cashed out frequently, as there was always a nagging feeling of "this model does not make sense".

 The new system uses a concept called Watts, which really has nothing to do with actual Watts. They released a video after the initial backlash and confusion, stating that the old systems was confusing and the new system was meant to simplify the user experience. 

General Notes on the good and the bad

- There are still remnants of forums and discussions there can be found on google search that are old and dated. Question are not answered. The sites appear to be abandoned.

- The current May 2021 referral bonus is $50. Opinion: This appears to be an attempt to boost subscriber numbers. Companies do this all the time (Bally fitness, before the buyout from LA fitness and 24 hour). Boost the subscriber numbers, show growth and the VC dollars will follow. 

- Every email I have sent to the support email, has received a response. Some not timely, but a response none the less. The resolution in general (in recent months), was more of an excuse for the poor implementation of the new system. Clearly there are other forces driving the need for OhmConnect to justify their choices.

- The new system is a clear devaluation of the old reward system. No surprise here - airlines and credit cards rewards systems do it all the time. There is the clear lack of communication and taking ownership. As consumers we expect honesty. Nobody is perfect. 

In Summary 

Can't recommend OhmConnect anymore. They have lost sight of the objective. Alternatively, they are just reacting to the forces that drive all corporations - show growth in subscriber numbers to get $. This service may still work for you, if you are a high power user, have reliable internet and smart devices that are opted in to their system. And yes, in general, we are all making a difference. Like anything - your mileage may vary. 

Reference Links

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