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If You Live in California, Here’s an Easy Way to Get a Free Smart Thermostat — and Earn $350/Year

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If you live in California, you’re likely all too familiar with summer blackouts. When the energy grid gets overloaded, dirty power plants need to turn on to keep everybody’s air conditioners running. If the grid is especially overworked, this can cause a blackout. This happens way too often and affects millions of Californians.

But a company called OhmConnect wants to help. It’s handing out free smart thermostats — and cash — to people in California who agree to try out its free service. Not only do you get these perks, but you’re also helping prevent these blackouts with hardly any effort. All you need to do is connect your utility account.

Here’s how it works: OhmConnect will send you a text message during high-energy-usage times and ask you to dial down your energy for about an hour. That’s it! If you have a smart thermostat, you can let it tick up a few degrees automatically with the help of OhmConnect. And if you don’t, now’s your chance to get one for free.

Smart thermostat or not — the more you do, the more money you can make.

For example, we talked to one woman, Tanya Williams, who recently earned an extra $1,700 in one year with OhmConnect — more than $140 a month. A few evenings each week, the 45-year-old stay-at-home mom shut down her home’s electrical panel and took the kids to the pool, or just played board games. Talk about easy money.

What you choose to do is up to you: You can grill dinner outside, go for a bike ride or even just play games on your phone. So long as you use less energy during these “OhmHours,” your earnings will add up.

How much energy can skipping a load of laundry or playing a board game really save?

Well, when you and your neighbors dial your energy usage back at the same time, you reduce the stress on the grid. OhmConnect says this reduction could equal more than two times the amount of energy that would have prevented 2020’s blackouts.

OhmConnect is free to join and costs nothing to participate. To get started, you’ll simply need your email and ZIP code and then to connect your utility account. Get connected, and you’ll be on your way to help end blackouts and make money.

Sign up here to get your free smart thermostat, which can handle  some of your energy savings automatically and could earn you $350 a year, plus prizes and gift cards.

Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.