Facebook is the ultimate tool for sharing our lives. We share photos of our kids, where and what we're eating, and now we can share our energy use. We reported last fall on Facebook's plans to partner with Opower and the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) to launch a "social energy" app that will let users share and compare their home energy consumption with their friends. Today, that app went live at social.opower.com.
The app imports your energy data directly from your utility or, if your utility isn't one of the 16 participating, you can enter in your information manually. Your home's energy info is compared with your friends and with homes of similar size and those stats can be published in your feed, allowing a competitive game out of making energy reductions. The app also aims to foster discussions about energy efficiency on Facebook.
Microsoft's Hohm and Google's Powermeter energy management apps never were able to take off, but the Opower app may have a better chance at succeeding through it's partnership with Facebook. People already check Facebook several times a day and this app will allow users to keep an eye on their energy use just as often, without having to log in to a separate app.
Opower has been in the energy management game for a while through an energy efficiency app and mailed reports to subscribers, which have been successful in reducing users' energy consumption.
Energy management software isn't particularly fancy, but it does have the potential to change behavior. Knowing your energy consumption is the first step to being able to reduce it, and now, with all your Facebook friends watching, you might be even more inclined to turn off the lights, adjust the thermostat and shave off some kilowatts. If that behavior could spread across Facebook, that could lead to a real positive impact.
The app is currently in beta with plans to expand with additional partners and functionality in the months to come.