Energy Adviser: Cut waste with app for social energy
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Starting in September, residents of Clark County will have a new way to help cut down on energy waste at home.
For most of us, the monthly electric bill isn't a big surprise and usage is comparable to the month or the year before. What we probably don't know is how that compares to others, which can be a great tool for finding out new ways to track down and defeat energy waste.
"Knowing your home is using more or less energy than similar houses can go a long way in helping you figure out new ways to cut waste," said Matt Babbitts, a Clark Public Utilities energy counselor. "Even customers using a lot less energy than their neighbors can find new ways to save. But for those using a lot more, having that information along with easy, doable tips to cut down on wasted energy can make a big difference."
With support from the Bonneville Power Administration and Opower as part of a pilot project helping electric customers lower bills by changing behavior, Clark Public Utilities customers will have the ability to share and compare energy use either with anonymous homes or with Facebook friends using a social energy app.
The app was developed by Opower in partnership with Facebook and the Natural Resources Defense Council to engage with electric customers across the country about their energy use. Designed to provide you with a better sense of your home's energy consumption compared to other homes, the app provides new, fun ways to save energy and bring down your monthly bill.
"Millions of electric customers across the U.S. now have access to the tool and we wanted to give our customers the opportunity to use these new technologies that are showing success," Babbitts said.
With interactive features that allow customers to see how their usage compares to either a collection of random, anonymous homes, prior years in their own home, or homes of friends and family who join, the tool serves up seasonal tips for using less. By changing small behaviors, savings can add up and bring down energy bills.
"The social energy app isn't replacing any existing tools we use to help our customers increase efficiency at home, and we know it won't be for everybody," Babbitts said. "But for those who are fans of Facebook and interested in learning more ways to use less energy, we hope the new social app will provide motivation to take savings to the next level."
Features currently available on the new social app include:
• Compare energy use to similar homes: Benchmark your home energy use against a national database of millions of homes. The comparison data is generalized, anonymous and completely private.
• Compare energy use among friends: Feeling competitive? Invite friends to compare their energy use against your own and share tips for reducing energy waste.
• Form a team: Families, friends, neighbors and co-workers can form teams to help achieve collective goals or compete against other groups. Lower your use and everyone wins!
To get started, on Sept. 1, visit social.opower.com/cpu and connect your utility account. Once signed up, you'll immediately start to see how your energy use compares to others (if you choose to share), which provides context for how efficient your home is versus other similar ones. Invite your friends to join and you can compete against each other for who can cut the most energy waste and win.Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to email@example.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.