7 Comments

Summary:

Can the social network effect change energy consumption habits? That’s what Oakland, Calif.-based startup Lucid Design Group is looking to find out. The 5-person company, which was founded in 2004 out of research at Oberlin College, sells a software and sensor service that monitors the real-time […]

luciddesigngroup_logo2.jpgCan the social network effect change energy consumption habits? That’s what Oakland, Calif.-based startup Lucid Design Group is looking to find out. The 5-person company, which was founded in 2004 out of research at Oberlin College, sells a software and sensor service that monitors the real-time use of electricity, natural gas and water.

The sensors collect data on electricity and other resources consumed, then use a dashboard to display the amount of money both spent and saved. The company is hoping to add more of a social network component, so consumers can, say, compare their savings to their buddies online. The company has already set up its system in 50 or so buildings – mainly commercial – and is profitable.

But, as CEO Michael Murray puts it, “the residential market is the holy grail.” To that end, the startup is now taking a bit of a risk by shifting its focus toward the average consumer. Not only is the residential market bigger (i.e. more financially attractive), but Lucid wants to cause a behavioral change for homeowners:

“The once-a-month utility bill is inadequate — behavior change needs immediate and actionable feedback. We can’t rely on guilt and bleeding hearts to change consumption habits.” – Michael Murray, CEO Lucid Design Group.

Murray has limited but tangible proof underpinning his belief that real-time savings and consumption info can change habits. In a competition at Oberlin College, the company found that its system prompted students to cut their electricity consumption by more than half. We’ve written about how companies working on technology like smart thermostats and meters are looking to have a similar effect; utilities are starting to test some of these technologies as well.

Not only can knowledge of personal consumption change behavior, but the idea is that the network effect could amplify that experience. Think “Facebook meets green,” explains Murray. Lucid hasn’t worked out exactly what the social network component will look like, but it’s easy to imagine an application on your Facebook page proclaiming your certified green savings habits to your friend list.

Lucid won’t make its service available to homeowners until it’s more consumer-friendly; currently, for example, the system requires an electrician to install. Ideally, the company will sell a system that the buyer can install for roughly $200 through a distribution channel like Best Buy (BBY), and then charge $3 or so per month for a service subscription.

Currently the company is funded by friends and family. But in order to shift the focus toward the consumer, Murray and his team are looking for additional funding. They are also one of 50 finalists that have been chosen by the California Clean Tech Open.

homedashboard_web1.jpg

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. What’s Your Ecotech Motivation? « Earth2Tech Tuesday, September 4, 2007

    [...] at this early stage in the eco-goods game, I think there is a lot of truth to that. It explains the various companies that are using the Web-based social network effect to basically shame consumers into cutting back on energy. If the data is transparent and members of [...]

  2. Cleantech Startup Competition Announces Winners « Earth2Tech Monday, October 29, 2007

    [...] Smart Power: Lucid Design Group. The Oakland, Calif.-based startup was founded in 2004 out of research at Oberlin College, and sells a software and sensor service that monitors the real-time use of electricity, natural gas and water. Check out our previous coverage of the company. [...]

  3. Is Onzo the iPod of Cleantech? « Earth2Tech Wednesday, April 2, 2008

    [...] is getting ready to jump the pond. Stateside startups in energy visualization technologies, like Lucid Design Group, might have some British competition coming. Digg Stumble Reddit del.icio.us Email « [...]

  4. The House That Twitters Its Energy Use « Earth2Tech Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    [...] It’s not as weird as it sounds. The Twitter stream is an exercise in using the data from home automation feeds, and the hope is that, by making energy usage data transparent and easy to digest, it will change consumer behavior and reduce energy consumption. The former Flash guys at GreenBox are working on using the same type of info for their energy management software, as are startups Agilewaves, and Lucid Design Group. [...]

  5. Green Energy Options’ Socket Sensors Plug In to $447K | Eco Friendly Mag Monday, September 15, 2008

    [...] that monitor energy use at the wall socket and report it to a lower-power LED display interface. Much like the Lucid Design Group’s Building Dashboard, the company’s basic “Solo” unit reports how much energy the home is currently drawing [...]

  6. Commercial Buildings + Energy Management = $6.8B Per Year Market Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    [...] over 3,000 Yahoo employees work. That’s one deal and a custom job. Or Lucid could work on packaging its software and sensor product into a relatively low-cost (some think it has to be dirt cheap to sell to consumers), probably [...]

  7. Fun Tools to Spark Energy Conservation: Shame, Guilt, Embarrassment Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    [...] has been talking about some kind of social networking tool since I profiled them close to three years ago. The six-year-old company, which was formed out [...]

Comments have been disabled for this post