Using Facebook to Plug in the Power of Energy Efficiency

Today, NRDC joined forces with Facebook and Opower to launch a landmark initiative designed to kick energy efficiency up a notch. Seizing upon the potential for social networking to influence people's energy use and behavior, our organizations are working together to launch an application designed to empower people to consume energy more efficiently -- in other words, enjoy same level of comfort at lower costs.

The application will be available early next year. The initial set of features will allow consumers to:

Compare Energy Use to Similar Homes: People will be 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 will be 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 will be able to share information about their energy use, rank, group participation, and tips they've completed.
Group Development -- Cooperation and Competition: Communities of people will be able to form teams to help each other achieve collective goals, as well as compete against other groups. Teams will be rewarded and incentivized by their utility or other network partners.
Automatically Import Energy Data: Customers of participating utilities will be able to import their energy data into the application automatically. (Customers from utilities that are not participating will also have the option to input their energy usage into the app manually.)

We expect today's announcement will be one of many collaborations we undertake with Facebook in order to help the company meet its sustainability goals.

As a first step, we're turning to Facebook's greatest resource, its platform, by empowering people on Facebook to take charge of and improve the way they use energy in their daily lives.

One of our primary goals is to move this nation -- our utilities, our businesses and everyday citizens -- to cleaner, more efficient energy. That's an aim we have for everyone we engage with, including Facebook.

And it's a goal our nation is working toward too.

In 2010, the federal government dedicated $5 billion to weatherization in an effort to take advantage of our nation's energy efficiency potential and create jobs. Never before has our government invested billions of dollars in energy efficiency as we have in recent years.

This initiative is focused on enhancing energy efficiency because it is the first and most cost-effective tool necessary in creating a clean energy economy. And when you enhance efficiency and the transparency around energy consumption and behavior, you empower people to take control of their own energy use and make smart choices about how they utilize it.

NRDC has worked for more than 30 years in partnership with utilities, regulators and their customers to improve energy efficiency and reduce environmental damage from all forms of electricity use. Progressive utilities realize that their role is changing in an era that offers tools like social networking as well as smart grid and metering technologies to enhance the transparency of energy consumption.

Opower has also established itself as a leader in providing software to over 60 utility companies designed to analyze customer energy usage and offer recommendations on how they can save money by making small changes to reduce their consumption. We are pleased that thus far ComEd, City of Palo Alto Utilities and Glendale Water and Power, have committed to working together to engage their customers more directly in this venture, and we anticipate that others will join us.

This will help people cut monthly electric bills while being part of a collective effort to cut pollution at the same time. We hope the 800 million people on Facebook agree.

This article originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog. Visit NRDCs Switchboard Blog