SXSW Eco: JouleBug App Generates Buzz For Responsible Behavior

ecojoule photo© Beth Buczynski/EarthTechling

When's the last time you bragged to a friend about switching to LED lights or diverting from the landfill by bringing your own bags to the grocery store? Yeah...probably never, right? Now, think about the last time you boasted about "checked-in" to a great restaurant or posted a picture of your new shoes on Facebook or Twitter. Exactly.

People are social, and social networks have allowed us to indulge that natural instinct with huge circles of friends and colleagues. What if there were a way to use our obsession with social media to encourage people to make socially and environmentally responsible decisions in their daily lives?

JouleBug is a playful mobile app that makes it possible to share your sustainable behaviors with your online social networks. Unlike other apps with similar goals, this one employs an intuitive, attractive interface to help people find and make easy changes that add up to small energy bills, reduced waste, and lots of fun.

What I loved about this app is that it's information-dense (without being boring or preachy), pretty to look at, and non-invasive. Unlike other apps or Facebook games that demand access to your personal information, JouleBug is ready to use upon download. Badges earned or energy reduction milestones can be kept private until the user feels like "buzzing" them out to their online networks. And yes, pretty soon, you'll be able to add pictures of your bus ride, resuable water bottle, or local merchandise to those tweets and updates.

The app is programmed to synthesize information like your location, utility rates, and weather and uses it to suggest activities that make sense for you and provide real-time info about how much you could save. JouleBug can also be synced with your utility bill so that you can see how the points you earn is making an impact on your own energy consumption. Oh, and did we mention? On average, it can save your more than $200 a year.

Learn more in the video below.

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