First Winners Announced for Apps for Energy Competition

May 24, 2012 by Jeff Shepard

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the first round of winners for the "Apps for Energy" competition, with app developers submitting more than 50 innovative mobile and web applications that will help utility consumers save money by making the most of their "Green Button" electricity usage data. The winners were selected by a panel of expert reviewers; Popular Choice awards will also be announced after the conclusion of a public voting period – which is underway now at the DOE website til May 31.

"We’re pleased to see such a strong response to our call for innovative new apps that will save consumers money by saving energy," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "This is about giving consumers easy access to information so they can make sense of their electricity bill – and more importantly, reduce their electricity bill."

Developers competing in "Apps for Energy" created apps that are designed to make the best use of the data provided through the President’s Green Button initiative, which recently announced that nine major utilities and electricity suppliers will provide more than 31 million costumers access to data about their own energy use.

Eligible apps included those for mobile phones, computers, tablets, software programs and more – providing new tools for understanding their electricity usage, taking action, and making better-informed decisions.

The winning apps – which are sharing prize money provided jointly by the Department and three private sector cosponsors of the competition – were announced by Senior Energy Department Official Patricia Hoffman at Connectivity Week, a gathering of smart grid industry leaders in Santa Clara, California.

Winners for the "Apps for Energy" competition are:

Best Overall App Grand Prize: Leafully

Location: Seattle, Washington

This application is the brainchild of Seattle-based team, Timothy Edgar and Nathan Jhaver who describe themselves as "two developers with an idea." Their app submission, Leafully, helps utility customers visualize their Green Button data, as a variety of units, such as the amount of trees needed to offset an individual’s energy usage. Leafully encourages users to set energy savings goals and to share their progress on Facebook.

Best Overall App Second Prize: Melon

Location: Washington, DC

DC-based startup Melon, describes itself as the first company to utilize Green Button data to simplify the process of obtaining an ENERGY STAR benchmark for commercial buildings. The app uses Green Button to evaluate the energy performance of commercial buildings. By providing basic information about the building and its energy usage – the app delivers an ENERGY STAR score and recommendations on reducing energy waste and saving money.

Best Overall App Third Prize: VELObill

Location: New York, NY

Cleantech software and services company, Zerofootprint’s VELObill app helps makes it easier for utility customers to view their energy usage, measure whether it is high or low, and compare it to that of their peers. With this information in hand, users can create an energy saving action plan tailored to their individual needs and preferences.

Best Student App Grand Prize: wotz

Location: Irvine, CA

School: University of California, Irvine

The wotz app, submitted by a team of students at UC Irvine, lets users explore and play with Green Button data. Provides several games based on the "shape" of your data, and provides creative comparisons to illustrate your usage, like how many cheeseburgers worth of energy you used last Tuesday from 5-6 pm.

Best Student App Second Prize: Budget It Yourself

Location: Cleveland, OH

School: Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Institute of Art

The Budget it Yourself app is a collaborative project a team of students at Case Western Reserve and the Cleveland Institute of Art. The app helps users track their energy usage and make energy-savings goals.

The team that developed the best overall application, Leafully, won $30,000. Second place, Melon, won $15,000, and third, VELObill, won $7,500. The winner of the public vote will receive $8,000 and second place will be awarded $4,000. Selections for the Popular Choice Awards and Peak Energy Usage Award will be announced on June 6, 2012.

More news and information regarding the latest developments in Smart Grid electronics can be found at Darnell’s SmartGridElectronics.Net.