Facebook friends compete to lower energy use

Opower's social energy app on Facebook lets people track electricity use, compare to national averages, and compete with friends to improve home efficiency.

The Opower social energy app lets people compare how their electricity use compares to friends and compete for better efficiency.
The Opower social energy app lets people compare how their electricity use compares to friends and compete for better efficiency. Opower

Social media has officially come to energy efficiency.

Opower today announced the availability of a Facebook application that lets people track electricity use and communicate with friends around home energy. People can set up different groups of friends and compare themselves to similar homes or the most efficient homes.

Sixteen utilities in the U.S. (see list here) are participating in a program which feeds utility bill information directly into Facebook, allowing a person to see total kilowatt-hour usage. Others will need to manually input monthly energy data to compare to regional average and participating friends.

The information sharing is meant to encourage people to become more aware of their personal electricity consumption and promote efficiency. People can compete with friends on their kilowatt-hour scores and share tips, according to Opower.

"The level of enthusiasm we're seeing from people who are excited about getting better context about their energy use, and share--even brag--about their energy efficiency within their social networks is inspiring," Opower CEO Dan Yates said in a statement.

He said that utilities increasingly need to work with social media channels, such as Facebook, to interact with customers, as consumers demand more information and better tools to manage home energy.

Opower is the company behind the paper utility reports that rank how one household compares to neighbors and other averages. Each report also includes suggestions on how to shave down electricity or heating fuel use, which are also available on the Facebook app.

Comparisons to peers has been found to be one of the most effective tools for motivating people to pay attention to energy use and improve personal efficiency. Utilities also use Opower's analytical software on Web sites which allow people to track electricity use and home efficiency projects.

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