Opower goes social

I wrote about Opower almost 2 years ago, a company which is working to reduce energy use by simply making people more aware of what they use in comparison with others.  At the time of that post, they seemed mostly focused on working directly with utilities, and sending out reports to customers showing them how their energy use compared to similar homes in their area.  The idea seems to be that if you are at all conservation & efficiency minded, seeing where you are in relation to others may actually encourage you to do even better.  They track the results, and apparently, it works.  However, that method works only if the utility is on board to provide the data.

It took a while, but Opower has now launched their “social” site at http://social.opower.com, in conjunction with Facebook and the NRDC.  This site encourages people who know each other to engage in a little friendly utility-bill competition.  If your utility is one (of the few) which is already engaged with Opower, it’ll pull in data automatically.  If not, you can enter data yourself.  (So far, it only tracks electricity use, but natural gas is planned).  You can also create groups of friends such as college alums, coworkers, neighborhoods, etc.  The site is still labeled “Beta” but it seems like a good idea to me.  My journey to a lower power bill started with actually paying attention to what I was currently using, and this looks like a fun way to encourage more of that!

For the friend comparison, it requires a Facebook account, but even without that you can compare your home’s use to aggregate data.  If you decide to give it a shot, send me a request and we can go head to head next month!

2 thoughts on “Opower goes social

  1. I have been disappointed with the Opower report. My neighbor and I both compare the Opower reports of our homes which are mailed to us monthly. He always scores low in comparisons. We’ve since learned that this is because the local utility has placed him in an “all gas heating” category – yet he has some electric heat in his home. (He is penalized as his electric use is higher the an all gas home. Our homes are different sizes. His is a 2 occupant household. Ours is 3 so our electrical use models are different. Sadly each month when we compare Opower’s “personalized savings suggestions based on our individual use” (printed on the back of the comparison) his suggestions and mine are exactly the same. In my mind Opower is comparing apples and oranges and suggesting applesauce to all!

    • Rick – well, that’s too bad – it probably is difficult to compare neighbor’s homes on a fair scale when they have substantial differences, but it does sound like it’s achieved the larger goal of getting people to look at, and think about , their power bills. Or maybe you were doing that already? :)

      It’s been a long time since I saw the utility-generated Opower reports, do they have heating method, number of inhabitants, square footage, etc as something you can configure if you log in to the associated web site?

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