As homeowners invest in solar panels, EV chargers, heat pumps and batteries, many are finding that a little electricity arbitrage can be addictive.

When Kevin Wood’s local utility started offering customers money in exchange for using less electricity, the father of one had a battle on his hands. Wood, who lives in Hampshire in southern
England, was keen on realizing savings while alleviating peak energy demand. But some things — like teenagers — are even harder to manage than maxed-out electricity grids.

A solar install on slate tiles near Colchester (Image: DH/Tanjent)

A solar install on slate tiles near Colchester (Image: DH/Tanjent)

“We tried saying, ‘Look, let’s not use your Xbox for an hour,’” Wood says. “[It worked] once. But we’ve agreed not to do that again.”

Diplomacy is just one part of Wood’s home-energy setup. He has solar panels, a battery and an electric car. A heat pump is next, once the gas boiler taps out. But installing all of that tech was just stage one — now Wood can’t stop paying attention to it. He tracks the cheapest time to use electricity and schedules his family’s washing, cooking and charging to match. “I am quite proud of the fact that I’m going to be net negative on my electricity,” Wood says. “I’m actually giving back.”

Wood is part of a new group of super-proactive, super-engaged electricity customers. Solar panels, home batteries and other energy-efficient devices are cheaper and more accessible than ever.

Read more: Bloomberg