This Startup Will Pay You to Remote Control Your Fridge

It could be the future of the smart grid

Thomas Smith


Photo illustration. Photo source: Westend61/Maskot/Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

On September 23, 2019, at exactly 4:55 p.m., I ran around my house frantically switching off anything that uses electrical power. First I tackled the obvious things — I turned off as many lights as I could, set my Nest thermostat to a balmy 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and made sure my dishwasher and dryer weren’t running.

I then turned to the less obvious items — pulling the plug on nonessential routers, home automation hubs, and the other little, glowing energy vampires that have slowly taken up residence on every surge protector in my home and garage. By 5:00 p.m., my house was using only a tiny trickle of electrical power. An hour later, I switched everything back on. All of this was recorded in an app.

No, I wasn’t simulating the effects of an EMP attack or doing a participatory journalism piece on the Amish. I was testing the services of OhmConnect, a startup that uses the smart grid, IoT devices, home automation, and gamification to reduce electrical demand. For my hour of electrical abstinence, I was paid $17.14.