Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Green Button Energy Saving Initiative Showing Promise

They say that knowledge is power, but when it comes to knowing how much electricity their home is using, most consumers are in the dark. 

In fact, the typical homeowner—on average—spends about 6 minutes per year interacting with his or her electric utility.  Because of that, they're missing out on opportunities to save some energy—and money.  That's beginning to change, however.

A year ago, the White House laid down a challenge to the nation's electric utilities: make it easy and fun for consumers to learn how much electricity they're using in their home.  A new report by IEE, an institute of the Edison Foundation, finds that they're succeeding.

Since October 2011, 20 electric utilities—representing almost 30 percent of the nation's homes—have voluntarily created, or have committed to create, a "Green Button" on their website.   Now, whenever they want, consumers can go to their utility's website, click on the Green Button, and download data about their home's energy use. 

To make consumers actually want to do so, Green Button also specified that participating utilities would have to use the same, standardized format to present the data.  This way, tech companies and software developers would have a large enough market to justify their investment in creating new energy saving apps for consumers. 

To further encourage app developers, the Department of Energy partnered with Itron and PG&E this past spring to host the Apps for Energy Challenge.  In just two months, the competition attracted over 12,000 followers and helped facilitate the development of 56 Green Button enabled energy saving apps.

Leafully won the grand prize for their app that helps consumers understand how their home's energy use affects the environment:  instead of displaying energy usage in dollars or kilowatt-hours, Leafully displays it in terms of trees needed to offset the resulting carbon dioxide.

If you would like more information about the new IEE report on the Green Button initiative, as well as its recommendations going forward, please let me know.


Keith Voight

Edison Electric Institute


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