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  • [ December 5, 2012 ]
  • Would social pressure influence your electricity usage?

In recent years, a growing number of electricity consumer engagement companies have developed around the U.S. with the mission of helping customers reduce their electricity use. These companies are focused on inspiring people to care about their home electricity consumption.

Electricity consumer engagement companies, such as Virginia-based Opower, show people how much electricity they use, when they use it, and what their neighbors and peers use. The companies hope the mix of facts and social pressure can drive consumers to care about their consumption.

Smart meters, which monitor detailed usage of electricity and allow two-way communication with a utility, are becoming more popular around the nation. Smart meters can help homeowners be better informed by displaying a range of information from which appliances are using a lot of power to what times of day are most expensive to use electricity.

But even after being better informed, consumers need a social reason to make changes.  Companies like Opower have found that customers are motivated to reduce their consumption if they can compare their usage to their neighbors- an energy efficient form of social pressure.

According to Yale Environment 360, companies are starting to see results. The engagement services save customers an average of 1.5 to 3.5 percent on their electricity bills. Opower claims its services have prevented almost 2.5 billion pounds of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere, in addition to the total of $180 million saved on electricity bills.

To learn more about this social home energy engagement, read Yale Environment 360’s article: How Data and Social Pressure Can Reduce Home Energy Use.

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