The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Facebook, NRDC and Opower Join to Drive Energy Efficiency through Social Media
Facebook, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Opower today joined with 16 utilities to launch a social energy app at http://social.opower.com. With an initial reach of 20 million households, the effort is one of the most significant to date, enabling people to take action and become more energy efficient. Leveraging the Facebook platform, the app allows people to quickly and easily start benchmarking their home’s energy usage against similar homes, compare energy use with friends, enter energy-saving competitions, and share tips on how to become more energy efficient.
Starting today, anyone can use the app at http://social.opower.com by logging in with a Facebook account. Those customers within participating utilities’ territories, representing 20 million households, have the advantage of being able to directly connect with their utility account, making it easy to track their progress and share energy savings accomplishments with others.
According to NRDC, improvements in energy efficiency have the potential to deliver more than $700 billion in cost savings in the U.S. alone. Motivating consumers to take action—something that has traditionally been a challenge—is the key to unlocking this potential.
“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,” said Dan Yates, CEO and co-founder of Opower. “It demonstrates a shift within the industry for how people expect to interact with their utility. Having meaningful conversations with customers using social channels will soon become common in the utility industry.”
The application’s concept derives from extensive social science research on human behavior change and energy use. Dating back to NRDC’s Hood River Conservation Project in the 1980s—word-of-mouth proved to be an effective tool in encouraging people to use energy more efficiently. The application’s use of this kind of behavioral science combined with energy information, and Facebook’s global platform for connecting and sharing has the potential to create a dialogue and action about energy efficiency among hundreds of millions of people.
More than 20 million households within the 16 participating utilities’ territories will be able to take advantage of the app’s “Utility Connect” feature, allowing customers to choose to have their energy use automatically update each month. These utilities and energy providers include:
- Austin Utilities (Minnesota)
- Burbank Water & Power
- Connexus Energy
- Consumers Energy
- Direct Energy (coming soon in 2012)
- Glendale Water & Power
- Loveland Water and Power
- National Grid (New York and Massachusetts)
- New Jersey Natural Gas (coming in 2012)
- Owatonna Public Utilities
- Pacific Gas and Electric Company
- City of Palo Alto Utilities
- PPL Electric Utilities Corp.
- Rochester Public Utilities
- Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC
The social energy app is the latest offering from Opower, expanding the world’s most established consumer energy efficiency platform with a social layer integrated within utility websites under their own branding.
“Facebook was designed to enable people to connect, share and multiply their impact," said Marcy Scott Lynn, Facebook Sustainability. "This app is a powerful, easily accessible way for people on Facebook to do just that, inspiring conversations about really important topics—energy and the environment—that might not otherwise have taken place."
“If every household in the U.S. cut back on energy use by a mere 1 percent, that alone would cut more than $1.6 billion off of Americans’ annual energy bills. That’s the same as taking more than 1.2 million homes off-the-grid all together,” said Brandi Colander, NRDC attorney, Energy and Transportation Group. NRDC’s partnership support includes subject matter expertise, partnership development and promotion. “This important tool will enhance energy literacy, making our daily energy choices more transparent and empowering people to make smarter, more economical decisions.”
Today’s beta launch is the first iteration of this app, which will expand with additional partners and functionality in the months to come.
For screen shots, click here.
For more information, click here.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jeremy Hance
VIETNAM, July 2019 – I'm chasing a ghost, I think not for the first time, as night falls and I gather up my gear in a hotel in a village in southern Vietnam. I pack my camera, a bottle of water, and a poncho; outside the window I can see a light rain.
By George Citroner
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the World Health Organization currently recommend either 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (walking, gardening, doing household chores) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise (running, cycling, swimming) every week.
But there's little research looking at the benefits, if any, of exercising less than the 75 minute minimum.
It seems the reality of the climate crisis is too much for the Federal Reserve to ignore anymore.
For 21 years, Doug Distaso served his country in the United States Air Force.
He commanded joint aviation, maintenance, and support personnel globally and served as a primary legislative affairs lead for two U.S. Special Operations Command leaders.
But after an Air Force plane accident left him with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain, Distaso was placed on more than a dozen prescription medications by doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
By Bailey Hopp
If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.
The scourge of plastic waste that washes up on once-pristine beaches and finds its way into the middle of the ocean often starts on land, is dumped in rivers and canals, and gets carried out to sea. At the current rate, marine plastic is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the seas by 2050, according to Silicon Canals.