News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Palo Altans Can Now Share and Compare Energy Use with Friends on Facebook
People can compete in energy saving challenges using a new Opower social energy app developed with Facebook and NRDC
Contact : Joyce Kinnear, Manager, Utilities Marketing Services, Utilities    (650) 329-2652
Palo Alto, CA -- City of Palo Alto Utilities customers now have the ability to share and compare their energy use with friends on Facebook using a new "social energy" application (app). Designed to provide people with a better sense of their energy use while fostering friendly competition, the app provides new ways for people to discover savings opportunities. Members of the community have a new place to connect and converse around energy use and experiences they've had saving energy and money. To get started, Palo Alto residents simply visit or search for the "Opower" app on Facebook and connect their utilities account.

People who sign up will immediately start to see how their energy use compares to others, providing context for how efficient their home is versus other similar ones. As friends are invited and join in, people will then be able to compete against each other in savings competitions.

The social energy app is the result of a partnership between Opower, Facebook and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). It is being offered by Palo Alto as a new way for customers to get more engaged in controlling their energy use and utility bill costs. The app is being rolled out nationwide so millions of residents across country will also be able to participate.

"This expanded social media opportunity is an ideal complement to the Opower Home Energy Reports we already send to our Palo Alto residents," says Valerie Fong, Utilities Director. "When our customers engage online with others using this easy, fun tool, they are helping our entire community move towards more energy savings, reduced utilities bills and a more sustainable daily life."

The initial set of features in the app includes:

1. Compare Energy Use to Similar Homes: People are able to benchmark their home energy use against a national database of millions of homes. All benchmark comparisons are done on an aggregate level, ensuring complete data privacy.

2. Compare Energy Use Among Friends: People are able to invite friends to compare their energy use against their own, show how energy efficient they are, and share tips on how to improve.

3. Publish Conversations About Energy to the Facebook Newsfeed: People are able to share information about their energy use, rank, group participation, and tips.

4. Group Development – Cooperation and Competition: Communities of people are able to form teams to help each other achieve collective goals. City of Palo Alto Utilities also has a utility page in Opower where customers can participate in challenges.

5. Automatically Import Energy Data: Customers of participating utilities, such as Palo Alto, are able to import their energy data into the application automatically, if they so choose. (Customers from utilities that are not participating will also have the option to input their energy usage into the app manually).

According to NRDC, improvements in energy efficiency have the potential to deliver more than $700 billion in cost savings in the U.S. alone. The key to unlocking this potential is helping people understand both how they consume energy and how their behavior impacts the way that energy is used. Once people see these connections, they can be motivated to change their behavior.

The Opower social energy app on Facebook is one of a suite of programs and services that Palo Alto offers customers to help them become more informed managers of their own energy use.