Back in April I reported on Green Button, a US initiative to provide households with access to data about their energy use with the click of an online ‘Green Button’. The idea is that providing easy-to-understand information about how they’re using energy will help consumers save power and reduce bills.
The US Department of Energy had also announced an ‘Apps for Energy’ contest to spur the invention of tools and services around the Green Button initiative, and winners were announced last week. They were:
Best overall app - grand prize: Leafully
From Seattle-based “two developers with an idea”. Leafully helps utility customers visualise their Green Button data as a variety of units, such as the number of trees needed to offset energy usage. Leafully encourages users to set energy savings goals and to share their progress on Facebook.
Best overall app - second prize: Melon
DC-based startup Melon describes itself as the first company to utilise Green Button data to simplify the process of evaluating the energy performance and obtain an Energy Star benchmark for commercial buildings.
Best overall app - third prize: Velobill
Cleantech software and services company Zerofootprint’s Velobill app makes it easier for utility customers to view their energy usage and compare it to that of their peers. Users can then create a tailored energy saving action plan.
Best student app - grand prize: Wotz
The Wotz app, from the University of California, Irvine, lets users explore and play with Green Button data, with games based on the ‘shape’ of the data. It also provides creative comparisons to illustrate usage, such as how many cheeseburgers worth of energy you used last Tuesday from 5-6 pm.
Best student app – second prize: Budget it yourself
A collaborative project from Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art. The app helps users track their energy usage and make energy-savings goals.
There are three prizes still to be awarded. The first and second place Popular Choice awards are down to a public vote, via the Apps for Energy web site, on all 57 entries (voting ends May 31st). There’s also a Peak Energy Usage Award that will go to the best app that addresses energy usage during peak demand. These remaining winners will be announced on June 6th.
Great stuff. I’m still of the opinion that consumers are not going to make significant savings from smart meters until they become an integral part of a smart grid. But I hope I’m wrong and these sorts of apps should certainly help to raise interest in what the data is telling consumers and what they can do about it.