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Facebook 'social energy' app compares home efficiency

Social networking meets energy efficiency in Facebook app done with Opower and the Natural Resources Defense Council that lets people compare energy use to friends and the national average.

The Facebook "social energy" done with Opower lets people compare their energy usage to friends, as a way to encourage home efficiency
The Facebook "social energy" app done with Opower lets people compare their energy usage to friends, as a way to encourage home efficiency.

After finding out what your friends did over the weekend, you'll be able to see how they're doing reducing their home energy use.

Facebook, Opower, and environmental advocacy group the Natural Resources Defense Council today announced a "social energy" application designed to raise awareness of energy use and encourage efficiency.

The Opower-developed application, which will be available early next year through Facebook's Green page, will let people compare how their energy usage compares to the national average and to other people who participate. To build a profile, people input their electric utility information in either dollars or kilowatt hours, explained Ogi Kavazovic, Opower's vice president of marketing and strategy.

Other planned features will let people form groups to compete on lowering their energy usage and to share tips, rankings, and participation in the groups.

Facebook and Opower have signed on a Chicago-based utility and two municipal utilities to import customer electricity consumption data directly into the application (with their permission) next year when the app launches. The app is part of utilities' efforts to engage with consumers, said Kavazovic.

The idea behind the app is to give people who are eager to lower their energy consumption for environmental and financial reasons an outlet to share information, said Facebook Sustainability executive Mary Scott Lynn in a statement.

The application will use features already in Opower's energy efficiency application and reports, which it provides through utilities. The company has found that comparisons to neighbors and word-of-mouth recommendations are effective in raising awareness of energy use and promoting efficiency. The company's system is used by about 60 utilities today. The partnership with Facebook gives it another channel for its software.