Consumers Energy electric customers can now share and compare their energy use with friends on Facebook with a social energy app being launched today. The app is designed to provide people with a good understanding of their energy use and new ways to discover energy savings opportunities, all while fostering friendly competition.
To get started, Consumers Energy customers should visit http://social.opower.com/ or search for the "Opower" app on Facebook and connect their utility account. People who sign up will immediately start to see how their electric use compares to others, providing context for how efficient their home is versus other similar homes. As friends are invited and join in, people will then be able to compete against each other in savings competitions.
"We're excited to offer our customers this opportunity to participate in a new, innovative way to learn about their energy use and share that information with friends," said Patti Poppe, Consumers Energy's vice president of customer experience and operations. "Customers can 'Count on Us' when it comes to providing them information about their energy use and savings opportunities." Poppe said the app is a high-tech expansion of Consumers Energy's energy efficiency programs that have helped customers save $67 million over the past two years.
The social energy app is the result of an effort between Opower, Facebook, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) .
The initial set of features in the app include:
- Compare Energy Use to Similar Homes: People are able to benchmark their home energy use against a national database of millions of homes. All benchmarking will be done on an aggregate level, ensuring complete data privacy.
- Compare Energy Use Among Friends: People are able to invite friends to compare their energy use against their own, show how energy efficient they are, and share tips on how to improve.
- Publish Conversations About Energy to the Facebook Newsfeed: People are able to share information about their energy use, rank, group participation, and tips.
- Group Development – Cooperation and Competition: Communities of people are able to form teams to help each other achieve collective goals, as well as compete against other groups.
- Automatically Import Energy Data: Customers of participating utilities, such as Consumers Energy are able to import their energy data into the application automatically, if they so choose. (Customers from utilities that are not participating will also have the option to input their energy usage into the app manually.)
According to NRDC, improvements in energy efficiency have the potential to deliver more than $700 billion in cost savings in the U.S. alone. Understanding how people consume energy and their behavior around managing their use is critical to capturing this unlocked energy efficiency potential. Motivating consumers to take action—a longstanding challenge—is the key to unlocking this potential.