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Your smart home just got smarter with Agile Octopus and IFTTT

Maddie Inglis, Tech

12th December 2018

  • Agile Octopus customers can now pair the world's first time-of-use energy tariff with If This Then That (IFTTT), the app that connects all your smart tech, to truly benefit from dynamic energy pricing, saving cash and carbon without even having to think about it.
  • Agile Octopus gives customers dynamic half hourly pricing based on wholesale energy prices, unlocking cheap off-peak rates 21 hours a day. But what good is a cheap energy period if you're not around to use it?
  • This UK-first partnership with the ultimate "connector" app, IFTTT, means your smart home tech can be turned on automatically when energy is cheapest and greenest.
  • Customers on the Agile tariff can download IFTTT free to connect their smart home appliances to our API, automatically triggering anything from laptop charging to water heating to tumble drying during cheap, low-carbon times in the day.

At Octopus, we put technology at heart of everything we do. Not just for the sake of it but to help our customers manage energy, save money and help the planet.

When the Agile Octopus tariff was launched earlier this year, we started seeing consumers modifying their behaviour to consume energy at off-peak times. Early results showed customers shifting 28% of their typical peak-time usage, but to truly unleash the power of Agile pricing, we knew we had to automate, so the full benefits of cheap, green energy could be enjoyed without users having to think about it at all! Pairing Agile Octopus with smart home tech means customers can benefit massively from real time changes in energy pricing and build truly smart homes.

Check out our CEO Greg, and Product and Marketing Director Rebecca, showing the Agile IFTTT integration in action in our smart energy zone:

How does If This Then That work?

The clue's in the name. Link your home services with your smart devices by setting rules called Applets, e.g.

If... Agile prices drop below 5p/kWh, Then... set my Nest thermostat to come on

A service, such as us at Octopus Energy, create a set of input Triggers (the ‘If This’ part). These are then matched to output Actions to form the ’Then That’, creating an overall ‘Rule’ (called an ‘Applet’ by the good folks at IFTTT). The great thing about IFTTT is the vast amount of services connected and flexibility to create your own scenarios.

Loads of cutting edge smart home product including Nest, Sonos, Belkin WeMo, Tado and Hive are all available on IFTTT. We wanted to allow our Agile customers to benefit from automation to truly make the most of the real-time pricing of their tariff, so it made sense for us connect Agile Octopus to IFTTT, too.

Agile's "If this..." Triggers

Agile Octopus' energy prices fluctuate every 30 minutes. We've created a series of Triggers around this half hourly pricing, including:

  • If the price changes above/below my set price...
  • If the price changes above/below my set price for at least my set number of 30-minute periods...
  • If my total energy consumed for the past day/week/month exceeds my set value...

Plus, we've built you some "...then that"s

New to IFTTT? We've built some "then that"s, too, to help get you started. Our ‘Applets’ based on these Triggers include:

  • ...set my Nest thermostat
  • ...set my Tado hot water
  • ...set my WeMo smart plug
  • ...set my Hue lights
  • ...set my Sonos speakers

These Applets are a great way to get started. But the beauty of IFTTT is that you can go and create your own Applets, too, to make any number of other things happen according to energy prices and consumption. Whether you want an Agile price change to log things to a spreadsheet, send a Tweet ("For the next half an hour Octopus are paying ME to use energy!"), or even put savings into a Monzo pot so you can truly see your bills going down, the smart home's your oyster.

With this integration, you could...

Save 40% on your water heating costs by programming your smart thermostat to heat at the cheapest times of the day

Pair the integration with a smartplug to charge your laptop during only the cheapest, least carbon intensive hour of the night to access full battery charging 90% cheaper than leaving it on all night (I think we all might be guilty of this)

Or, use smartplugs to run any energy intensive appliances you could run off-peak. Your tumble dryer, for example. You could save 25% per year on your tumble drying costs, on average.

Set up a visual prompt to remind you to turn on appliances when energy prices go low - like programming a Phillips Hue bulb to turn green when it's time to put the tumble dryer on!

*Figures based on UK averages sourced from Which?and The Telegraph.

We want our switched-on Agile customers to make the most out of their energy, and build a community to support each other in their cost- and carbon-cutting efforts. Join our forum exclusively for Octopus Agile customers to come and share experiences, ask questions and chat new ideas.

How do I get started?

You need to be an Octopus customer. If you're not one yet, why not get a quote? Just sign up on an interim tariff, then get in touch to switch to Agile Octopus.

Sign up for innovative renewable energy in seconds

You'll need a Secure smart meter, and to be on Agile Octopus for your electricity. If you don't yet have a smart meter, just book an appointment through your online account (click "Replace with smart meters" under your meter info on your dashboard).

Head to ifttt.com and create an IFTTT account. Once you're logged in, find the Octopus example Applets.

Follow the instructions to link your Octopus Energy account. You'll need your unique API Key, plus your meter MPAN and serial number, in the setup. This is all available on your online account at octopus.energy/dashboard/developer/ when logged in.

  • Your API Key will be something like sk_live_GIty89ajghK - copy your own Key across to IFTTT (this is like a password so do keep it secret)
  • Your MPAN is 13-digits long. This as well as your meter serial number help us link correctly to your meter.

And you're away! The only other thing you'll need is some ideas... whether it's heating your water at cheap times (assuming you have a hot water tank not a combi-boiler), managing your electric heating, or powering any other energy-intensive appliances outside of peak times to make the most of the cheapest energy of day.

We have created a few IFTTT Applets to help you get started, but within IFTTT you can create many more Applets yourself from the Octopus IFTTT Triggers and many IFTTT Actions.

Read on for FAQs about using Agile Octopus with IFTTT

What are IFTTT Applets, Triggers & Actions?

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In IFTTT an Applet is a kind of rule, or scenario, that connects input Triggers to output Actions. Octopus Energy IFTTT Triggers and Applets are designed to automate things according to the time-of-use price. Here at Octopus Energy we’ve created three Triggers:

  • Energy price change. Make something happen when the price of energy changes. Up or down price changes and the price threshold can be set.
  • Energy price threshold change for a duration. Make something happen when the price will be above/below a threshold for quite a while. E.g. for 1.5 hours, or any duration in 30-minute blocks and at whatever price you wish to track.
  • Energy consumption. Make something happen when my consumption in a day/week/month exceeds a value. Useful if you want to receive an alert instead of regularly logging in to check your current energy bill.

Why aren’t there any Octopus IFTTT output Actions?

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Within IFTTT a service can provide both Triggers and Actions to use in Applets. Octopus Energy provides Triggers but as your energy prices and consumption are a service there’s no such thing as an Octopus Energy Action. When you create Octopus Energy Applets you are connecting a price/consumption Trigger to Action many other products and services such as thermostats, smart plugs, email notifications, lights, etc.

What happens if I leave Octopus or move house?

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If you leave Octopus your Octopus Energy account API Key will no longer be valid and any IFTTT Applets will no longer function.

If you move home but stay with Octopus your new home will have a different MPAN and serial number which you will need to re-enter into IFTTT to get going again.

If someone moves into your old home and has Octopus Energy too your IFTTT service will not be connected to your old home because the API key and MPAN will no longer match. The new homeowner will need to use their own API Key and the MPAN and Serial number of the meter in your old house for their own IFTTT Applets to work and you will need to enter your new home’s MPAN and serial number into IFTTT to get going again.

How do I get started?

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First you need an IFTTT account, be an Octopus Energy Agile tariff customer and have some ideas of what output Actions you want to happen such as heating your hot water (assuming you have a hot water tank not a combi-boiler), managing your electric heating, or any other high energy consuming electrical appliances which you can use outside of peak times so use cheapest time of day prices.

We have created a few IFTTT Applets to help you get started, but within IFTTT you can create many more Applets yourself from the Octopus IFTTT Triggers and many IFTTT Actions.

Next log in to IFTTT and find the Octopus example Applets. Follow the instructions to link your Octopus Energy account. You will need your API Key, MPAN and Serial number which is all available from here when logged in: https://octopus.energy/dashboard/developer/

You will see your unique API Key which will be something like sk_live_GIty89ajghK - copy your own Key across to IFTTT.

Your MPAN is 13-digits long - copy this too.

And similarly copy your Meter Serial number from the Octopus page too.

Your API key is like a password so keep it secret. Your MPAN and Serial number help us link correctly to your meter.

Does this work for Gas?

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No, the Octopus Agile tariff is only for electricity as the UK power system has highly variable wholesales costs through they day which we pay whereas the wholesale gas prices vary very little through the day.

What if I don’t set Before and After time settings in a Trigger?

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When using the ‘Energy price threshold change for a duration’ Trigger you can set the Happens After and Happens Before (e.g. between 3.00pm and 6.00pm) times. If you leave either blank then we assume midnight.

What happens if I create an Applet now which is theoretically valid from say 5 minutes ago?

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If you create a rule and the current time just as you save it is say 4.35pm and the conditions for that rule mean it is valid right now (e.g. the price threshold crossed 5 minutes ago at 4.30pm as price changes are every 30 minutes) you might wonder if the Applet runs or not because it seems you’re ‘in’ a relevant 30 minute period. The answer is it will not as Triggers always run at the half-hour, not retrospectively. If the in this example the price stays below the threshold price you’ve set at the next half-hour (i.e. 5.00pm) the Applet will still not fire. If at 5.00pm it rises above, then at 5.30pm it falls below the threshold then finally the Applet will fire.

What sort of values might I use for the Consumption Trigger?

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A typical home uses around 5kWh per day but look at your electricity bill to check your own consumption as this Trigger takes your own consumption data.

Why is there up to a day’s delay in the Consumption Trigger firing?

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Although you have a Smart meter which takes readings every 30 minutes, we receive the days’ batch of readings only once a day (not every 30 minutes) so a Consumption trigger will always work off this daily report. This means the Trigger will lag your actual consumption threshold setting by up to 24 hours. For example if we receive your daily Smart Meter data at 1.00pm and the latest reading shows 12,345 and you have a Consumption trigger set for 12,346 and by 2.00pm you’ve used 2kWh we won’t know that 12,346 threshold was crossed by 2.00pm until we receive the daily data tomorrow at 1.00pm so the IFTTT Trigger will be delayed by 23 hours.

What’s a good value to use for price threshold Triggers?

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The Agile tariff prices vary from around 5 pence at night to a maximum cap of 35 pence in the peak period 4.00pm to 7.00pm. You might therefore have an Applet to run hot water overnight during periods below 10 pence but in the afternoon use a value of 15 pence. If you set the price too low you risk not having any (or enough) 30-minute slots to run your appliance so look carefully at your recent Agile electricity prices so you’re using reasonable price settings.

Why would I use the 'Energy price threshold change for a duration’ Trigger instead of the ‘Price Change’ Trigger?

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The ‘Price Change’ Trigger runs an Applet just when the price rises/falls past your set threshold. But if you used this to run say a dishwasher on a smart plug and the price dropped just below your threshold at 3.30pm, so your machine started, then at 4.00pm and 4.30pm the price of energy increases towards the 35 pence cap then your machine (dishwashers, dryers, washing machines have cycles up to two hours) ends up using expensive peak electricity. So use the 'Energy price threshold change for a duration’ to run the Applet only if the energy price is below your set threshold for at least, say, 2 hours.

What happens if the Trigger conditions are valid in successive 30-minute periods?

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An Applet runs only the first time the condition is met. For example if the rule is set to run when prices fall below 15 pence, if the prices are 16 pence at 10.00am, 13 pence at 10.30am and 12 penchants at 11.00am then the rule will run at 10.30am but not at 11.00am as the rule has already run.

Why is the period 30 minutes and not, say, 10 minutes?

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We purchase energy on the wholesale market in 30-minute periods so our Agile tariff is also in 30-minute periods.

Is the price including or excluding VAT?

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The Triggers are all including VAT. Your Agile electricity bill shows the daily 30-minute breakdown excluding VAT (so be careful taking values from this and setting the Trigger conditions) as VAT is shown on the whole bill on the cover page of your bill.

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Maddie Inglis

Social Media Manager

Hey! Just so you know, your device is fully charged and you're still charging it. Removing the charger will avoid degrading your battery 😊

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