Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Keeping Up with the Joneses (in Energy Efficiency)

Guest post by Lori Shivey

Who would have thought that adults would still act like they are in high school? A startup company, called OPower, has found this out. People are still influenced by what others do and are doing. It seems that all it takes is No. 10 envelopes and smiley faces.

OPower, an industry leader in Energy Efficiency and Smart Grid software, mails utility users a personalized report about their energy consumption. In this report, OPower compares the utility user to his or her neighbors. In doing this, people can be persuaded to lower their energy consumption, which in turn helps fight global warming as well as reduce emissions. People who are using less energy get a smiley face, which motivates them to want more. People who are using more energy than their neighbors get to know that they are being more wasteful.

Dan Yates is the man responsible for this startup. After selling his first startup, at $20 million, he was able to travel the world and this led him to become an environmentalist. After his travels, Yates and Alex Laskey started OPower with the help of Dr. Robert Cialdini, who is a renowned social psychologist.

So far the company has done well. Customers who receive these personalized reports have cut their energy consumption by 1.2 percent to 2.8 percent on average. The company’s reports are currently being used by 1 and 2 million people through 24 different utility companies.

OPower hope sto combine its data analysis with smart grid technology, which will help get the information out to more people. People will then be able to see whether they are conserving energy or not, much like they compare other daily spending habits.

Listen to a podcast (or read the transcript) of a recent interview with founder and CEO, Dan Yates.

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