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Facebook ‘Social Energy App’ Enables Users To Compare Home Energy Use

Social energy app

Facebook has announced a new “social energy app”, enabling you to compare your home energy consumption with that of your online friends and similar homes.

To launch the app, Facebook has partnered with the National Resources Defense Council and an energy efficiency software startup called Opower. The Virginia-based startup has so far raised more than $65 million in venture capital funding. Investors in the company include heavy hitters such as Acell Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Within the social energy app, accurate energy data is supplied by the 16 participating power utilities. If the utility you use is participating, you can have your household energy consumption data fed directly into the app and compared with other users anonymously. Some of the participating utilities include: National Grid, City of Palo Alto Utilities, ComEd, PG&E and Consumers Energy. Facebook has stated that the app will have an initial reach of a substantial 20 million U.S. households.

For a more basic (and far less accurate) comparison, on the Opower site you can also try a home energy comparison without connecting to Facebook or a power utility, by simply entering the dollar amount of your last electricity bill.

Making energy conservation into a kind of game, or at least an easy, fun, and competitive online activity, is certainly an interesting new approach. Do you think this kind of energy information sharing will catch on, or will people be a bit shy about sharing their energy consumption information online?

Are you keen to try the app yourself? If so, let us know what you think.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edith-Wiethorn/100003661781691 Edith Wiethorn

    I’ve been following the development of Opower with great interest. Have you read anywhere what the business revenue model is from the perspective of Accell & KPCB? Has Opower said how quickly & where they plan to scale up?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edith-Wiethorn/100003661781691 Edith Wiethorn

    For relevant use of my time, I would want to compare notes with similar households in similar climates – rather than friends with structurally different energy needs. I’ve read that the Nissan Leaf has an onboard monitor that records driving effectiveness for fuel reduction. It’s been extremely popular & owners have asked for software-tuning that gives them handicaps for circumstances like stop & go traffic, or hilly terrain. So it seems that there too it is *personal best methods* people want to compare, not just social-networking with *friends.*

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    Perhaps they will add features as the it develops. Apparently the present version is in beta, so no doubt requests from users will be taken into account after this public release.

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    No, I have no information on that at the moment, but I’ll certainly keep my eye on developments. Usually VCs like to aim to get a decent return on investment within 5 years or so, if it’s software-related, don’t they? Facebook itself is about to pay off big-time for early investors.

  • Anonymous

    Is this kind of ‘competitive power saving’ worth the costs of yet more personal information becoming public information?

    The article make only the barest concession to such concerns, yet, for many people, any mention of Facebook gives them the privacy shudders.

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    Sure, in general Facebook (the company) has given little reason for trust in terms of privacy, but in general, I think the opening up of the flow of data from power usage is going to be a good thing. 

    Eventually, it’ll help lead to a distributed network for renewable power, much like the Internt is for data today. Let’s call it the Enernet. And it will of course involve the local generation, storage and sharing of renewable energy. I’d say the possibility of abundant renewable energy shared over networks is a major upside.

    Sure, there may be some downsides, but no more than data on the internet today. There are always pros and cons. I think the pros largely outweigh the cons.