Energy Tracking with Opower's Facebook App
In early April, Opower, an energy tracking software, and Facebook, launched an app that allows users to track their energy usage, compete against their friends for the lowest energy usage and share ways they are cutting down on energy consumption. The app is fairly easy to use. To set up your account, you just have to fill out some basic information about your home (where it is, how big it is, how many people live there, etc) and enter your utility information. In some cases, the utility information can be automatically imported. There are sixteen utilities allowing the option to automatically import data into the app currently (this translates to 20 million households). You can find a list of these utility companies here. If your utility does not allow automatic importing, you can still manually input your data.
What motivated Opower to create a social energy app?
Peer pressure can go a long way! Just kidding… well, sort of. The truth is, the average U.S. consumer thinks about their energy use for about six minutes a year. People have so many things to worry about, that energy falls to the bottom of the list. However, when people are engaged in a social interaction centered around energy use, they are more motivated to take actions to reduce their energy consumption. They can chat with friends about strategies they are using to reduce their energy use and see the impact by viewing the data itself. They can be coerced into reducing their energy consumption if their friends think they are using too much. And with the vastness of Facebook’s network, they have the potential to reach a large audience.
A Greentech Media article released shortly after the launch noted that the majority of users were utility employees testing out the application. However, the app is gaining in popularity, with 5,000 monthly users and over 800 “likes.” The app is also promoted on the “Green on Facebook” page, which serves as a resource for users interested in environmental stewardship. This page has over 123,000 "likes," illustrating Facebook users’ interest in environmental, and hopefully energy efficiency, issues.