Social apps review: Apps to help cut your energy use
Exercising, sleeping, cooking, job-hunting… there’s an app for everything nowadays, and energy efficiency is no exception. As utility bills creep ever higher and we’re increasingly bombarded with environmental messages, savvy app developers have jumped in to make the whole process of saving the planet a little easier – and in some cases pretty fun, too.
We’re constantly told to turn lights off when we leave a room, or to turn the thermostat down, but what impact do these little behaviors really have? Nifty app JouleBug will tell you, organizing energy-saving tips into achievements that you can wave in the faces of your friends on Facebook and Twitter through a social leaderboard and trophy case. Embedded videos also share smart DIY tips to help users live more sustainably without having to think too hard.
Platform and developer: iOS (by Cleanbit Systems).
Final word: A really straightforward app good for cross-checking every day behaviors with actual energy consumption. You might be surprised at how much you use unnecessarily.
Another app that pitches you against friends and has the option to mercilessly broadcast your eco-credentials (or lack of them) to the world, My CO2 Calculator helps users visualize their personal carbon footprint simply by asking them to input their daily activities at work, home and while traveling. The app then helps identify areas to work on, and sets reasonable targets to aim for.
Platform and developer: Android, iOS (by Zero Above).
Final word: This one will keep a log of your efforts over time, and it really is interesting to see how much of an impact small behavior changes have over an extended period (hint: enough to wave them around on social channels in a very smug fashion).
Facebook app Opower takes the tedious topic of energy efficiency and turns it into something of a game by asking users to invite their friends to join them in a quest for a happier planet. The app presents extremely simple energy-saving challenges, and pits friends against one another for green glory. Achievers, of course, have their victories splashed all over the social site, so everyone can see what a good greenie they are. The app also connects with energy companies to automatically pull in usages for more informed energy saving.
Platform and developer: Facebook (by Opower).
Final word: A fun and productive way to spend a few minutes on Facebook each day – if you’re going to procrastinate, you might as well do it with a good cause in mind, eh?