The Equiwatt app is designed to help householders in the UK reduce their electricity use when it is at its dirtiest and most expensive and increase their energy efficiency from the comfort of their sofa and reward them for it through points that can be redeemed for gift cards. Better still, Equiwatt helps people to do their bit to reduce their environmental footprint by helping to reduce the amount of emissions by helping to reduce the need for excess energy to be produced at peak times.
The app has been around for a few years and has evolved significantly. With the ever-fluctuating costs of energy eating into households' budgets during this cost of living crisis, the financial incentives can be beneficial, not forgetting, of course, that every time we save energy, we reduce the need for energy companies to produce as much fossil fuel-based energy which can have a more significant impact on the environment.
So how does it work?
Equiwatt can save you money on your energy costs in a couple of ways.
The Equiwatt free smartphone app will reward you points for turning off connected domestic appliances, such as fridge freezers, freezers, TVs, washing machines, tumble dryers, basically any electrical item that is plugged into your homes electricity supply, during 'Equivents', which are hour-long periods, 10 to 12 times a month, which are designed to help you use less energy, especially during periods of peak demand, to help to reduce Co2 emissions, by reducing the amount of electricity needing to be produced by the electricity grid, which is a massive Co2 producer.
Participate By Smart Meter
The idea is that you connect your smart meter (one that gives half-hourly readings) to the app, and this monitors the amount of energy you are using. There's an in-depth guide on how to do this on the Equiwatt website, but basically, you connect your smart meter by adding your MPAN (sometimes known as your electricity supply number) and verifying your address by using your In-Home Display (IHD), or you can use a payment card registered to your home address (You will be charged 30p and instantly refunded). Once you have successfully verified your address and added your smart meter, you are ready to participate in your first Equivent.
Equiwatt will send you a message to tell you that an Equivent is due to take place on a specific date and at what time. You can then opt into the event if you want to, but you don't have to; you can pick and choose which Equivalents to participate in, but the more you participate, the more energy you save and the more points you can earn. Your aim during the Equivent is to use less energy than you would typically during that time. The system knows your normal energy usage by analysing your smart meter data and then forecasts what you're likely to use usually; the more energy you save below your forecast, the more points you'll earn, which can then be converted into gift cards when you have enough. You may also find the odd 'surprise' Equivent event taking place, where you'll not be advised beforehand that an event is taking place.
Using less energy in people's homes can be pretty straightforward; you might turn off your tv, not use your lights, power off electrical items that are usually on standby, or anything that means your household is using less energy! You don't, of course, have to sit in the dark with none of your electrical appliances turned on, although you would likely earn lots of points, it's all about turning off what you don't actually need to have on at that time!
You may well find that, having participated a few times, you identify items that you don't actually need to have plugged in but are costing you money to have plugged in. So by unplugging them permanently or taking them off standby mode, you'll save more energy and, of course, money!
Participate By Smart Plug
If you have a compatible smart plug, you can sync this with Equiwatt's free app, which will then turn off the device you have plugged into your smart plugs for you for an hour (can be set to 30 minutes if you prefer), which will earn you points, without having to turn off the appliance manually, and of course, it will also have financial rewards as it will save on your energy use and energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint! Equiwatt uses IFTTT, which is short for 'If This Then That', and is an easy way to set up a variety of automations which can enable you to take part in Equivents without having to lift a finger! From Tapo, Smart Life, Phillips Hue, Hive and Tado, there are so many smart devices that can be connected to Equiwatt to take part in Equivent's via the IFTTT integration automatically.
This means the system will turn off compatible equipment, for example:
Turn off hive plugs when an equivent starts
Turn off Smart Life devices when an equivent starts
Switch off SmartThings devices when an Equivent starts.
This is one of the ways I save energy, the app turns off my fridge and freezer automatically for an hour, and then once the Equivalent has ended, it turns it back on again, which is handy in case I forget, and we end up with unusable food!
All the Equiwat users saving energy simultaneously help energy companies reduce the use of polluting power plants at peak times of demand. Energy companies pay Equiwatt for helping to reduce this expensive and dirty peak time energy usage, which is then paid out to the Equiwatt community members who save the energy. The more households that participate, the more significant energy reduction occurs, saving more people money during unprecedented energy prices and the rising cost of living.
Smart technology makes it easier to make points and make and save some money. On average, Equiwatt expects every device to earn points up to the equivalent value of £5 in rewards every year when the appliance takes part in the entire length of every Equivent.
If you have an electric vehicle, you can also use your Smart EV chargers to save energy via the app, further increasing your potential savings and reducing the pressure on the national energy supply by reducing the use of high-energy use devices, which of course, smart chargers count as, during times of peak demand.
2. The National Grid DFS
As an approved provider to The National Grid DFS ( National Grid Energy), Equiwatt users can also earn additional points from this energy reduction service during specific peak times in the winter.
You may well have seen in the news last year that energy companies are giving some of their customers a financial incentive to manually turn off appliances around their homes to conserve power, especially during peak hours for energy consumption and high energy demand such as extra cold weather, where usually the infrastructure may be straining to keep up with the extra demand for keeping homes warm and lit. This is known as the National Grid's Demand Flexibility Service.
The scheme entitles households with up-to-date smart meters, who are signed up to the scheme via their supplier, to discounts if they cut their electricity use by turning off energy-intensive appliances during energy-saving events. The scheme compares usage against a customer's usual demand and pays £3 for every unit or kilowatt hour (kWh) saved.
Not all energy suppliers offer this option, as they haven't all signed up to the scheme; however, Equiwatt now runs its own scheme as an approved provider to National Grid DFS, and Equiwatt users can earn additional points from partaking in these National Grid DFS Equivents.
Equiwatt is independent of energy suppliers, so anyone with a smart meter that gives half-hourly readings can choose to participate with Equiwatt regardless of who your supplier is.
The procedure is the same as the normal Equivents; the app will notify you in advance of an upcoming National Grid DFS Equivent, and you then accept the invitation to participate via the app. Like the other option, the system uses your smart meter data to see how much energy you saved, then compares what you would typically use at that time, and the difference is aware as points. It's super easy and could save you some money, earn some gift cards, and of course, save energy for the National Grid, and reduce emissions as well. This scheme runs during winter only, generally from November until March the following year. After this date, you can still partake in the normal Equivent events, save energy, and earn money that way.
Points make prizes!
Once you have 1,000 points, you can cash them out for a gift card. 1,000 points is equal to a £10 gift card. You can earn gift cards from the following retailers (as of July 2023):
GlobalGiving - £10
World Land Trust - Plant 2 trees for 1,000 points or 5 trees for 2,500 points
National Trust - £10
Just Eat - £15
Tesco - £15
Habitat - £15
Costa - £15
Sainsbury's - £15
Asda - £15
Argos - £20
John Lewis - £20
Vintage Roots - £20
Finisterre - £25
Love2Shop - £30
Amazon - £30
You can also exchange 2,000 points for a TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug.
You can download the app and get more information on the Equiwatt website.