One of the most comprehensive applications to use Facebook to manage home energy consumption was officially launched on Tuesday. Created by energy software company Opower, and in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the social energy app enables Facebook users to compare their energy consumption with their peers and keep track of real energy data provided by a participating utility.
The app has gotten the participation from 16 utilities (representing 20 million h0useholds), including PG&E, City of Palo Alto Utilities, ComEd, Consumers Energy and National Grid. If your utility participates in the program, that means you can request to have all of your energy consumption information imported into the app and compared and contrasted (anonymously) with your peers.
Opower specializes in using behavioral analytics to convince energy users to curb consumption. The company built a business off of mailing detailed visual reports to utility customers with happy faces (you’re conserving!) and unhappy faces (you need to do better), to elicit a reaction from the customers, which leads to energy conservation. Opower delivers about 2 percent energy savings to utility customers just through mailed reports.
But Opower has been expanding out intp the mobile and web worlds, using its behavioral tools and software know-how to develop apps like the Facebook one. Social networking could provide a whole new way for behavioral analytics (and game mechanics) to produce more energy conservation. In a release, Facebook’s Sustainability exec Marcy Scott Lynn pointed out that “Facebook was designed to enable people to connect, share and multiply their impact.”
The app is in Beta right now, but Opower says it will add more features and expand it this year. Test it out and tell us what you think!