Opower has launched a social energy app for Facebook, in conjunction with the Natural Resources Defence Council and 16 utilities representing 20 million households.
The aim of the application is to encourage people to become more energy efficient by comparing their own usage with similar homes easily and effectively, by comparing their usage with their friends, participating in energy saving competitions and sharing their energy efficiency tips.
All you need to use the app, is a Facebook account. The customers within the utilities territories are able to log in to their account and track their progress with other users.
The participating utilities are Austin Utilities (Minnesota), Burbank Water & Power, ComEd, Connexus Energy, Consumers Energy, Glendale Water & Power, Loveland Water and Power, National Grid (New York and Massachusetts), Owatonna Public Utilities, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, City of Palo Alto Utilities, PPL Electric Utilities Corp., Rochester Public Utilities, and Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC, with Direct Energy and New Jersey Natural Gas coming soon.
“The level of enthusiasm we’re seeing from people who are excited about getting better context about their energy use, and share – even brag – about their energy efficiency within their social networks is inspiring,” said Dan Yates, CEO and co-founder of Opower. “It demonstrates a shift within the industry for how people expect to interact with their utility. Having meaningful conversations with customers using social channels will soon become common in the utility industry.”
The concept began with extensive social science research on human behaviour change and energy use. NRDC’s Hood River Conservation Project in the 1980s found that word-of-mouth proved to be the most effective tool in encouraging people to be more energy efficient. Facebook’s global platform of connecting and sharing has the potential to create a successful method of sharing energy efficiency information amongst hundreds of millions of people.
The app has a “Utility Connect” feature, in which the households in the participating territories will be able to choose to have their energy use updated on a monthly basis.
The current beta launch is the first iteration of the app, which will expand in the near future with additional partners and functions.