Facebook Launching "Social Energy" App for Improving Energy Efficiency

Can Facebook do for energy monitoring what Google and Microsoft couldn't? Facebook is planning to launch a new app that will allow users to monitor their energy use and compete to reduce their electricity bills. Sound familiar? Despite the failure of home energy monitoring platforms PowerMeter and Hohm, Facebook and partners Opower and NRDC think it's worth another go.

NRDC reports that the new platform will focus on energy efficiency, helping people to "enjoy same level of comfort at lower costs."

The app will allow comparison of your home to similar homes as well as to friends' energy consumption, and post conversations about energy consumption in your newsfeed. It will automatically import your energy data (which might be way TMI for many users already concerned with Facebook privacy issues) or if your utility isn't participating with the app you can input your energy data manually.

We have to agree that we need to keep trying new methods until something sticks, and gets all of us to pay attention to -- and reduce -- our home energy consumption. Whether or not this app will take off where others have failed is yet to be seen, but we're very interested in watching what happens after the launch.

Martin LaMonica of CNet writes, "The application will use features already in Opower's energy efficiency application and reports, which it provides through utilities. The company has found that comparisons to neighbors and word-of-mouth recommendations are effective in raising awareness of energy use and promoting efficiency. The company's system is used by about 60 utilities today. The partnership with Facebook gives it another channel for its software."

Many companies have also found comparisons and word-of-mouth to be effective in raising awareness and promoting efficiency. The real trick is making people care for longer than a couple months, and to actually make changes rather than just watch comparisons and then get bored.

However, Facebook has become a central space for being online, and perhaps if such an app is part of a network one checks on a daily (okay, hourly) basis rather than an entirely separate website someone has to get used to checking, then it might have a better chance at surviving.

Facebook's Green Connect page will keep you updated on the launch, as well as NRDC and Opower's pages.

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