How big data can save a terawatt hour of energy — GigaOM
Energy data startup OPower says that its software and big data tools will be able to help save one terawatt hour worth of energy collectively from U.S. homes by the end of 2012. One terawatt hour (or 1 million megawatt hours) is equivalent to the energy consumed by 100,000 American homes over a year, and is worth a whopping $100 million in savings off of consumer’s utility bills.
Opower is one of the rare startups in the greentech world that hit on a solid software-based idea early on and is now charging ahead and growing at a rapid pace. Founded in 2007, Opower’s smart algorithms collect and crunch utility energy consumption data, analyze it for behavior-changing tidbits, and package the results into a detailed utility bill that can help consumers save around 2 percent on their energy bills. The bills can compare customers to their neighborhoods as a whole (leveraging shame, guilt or the competitive spirit), and recommend tips for saving energy.
Two percent might not sound like a lot, but collectively it’s making a significant dent in U.S. home energy consumption. Already as of April Opower had collectively saved 200 gigawatt hours of energy since it started, which is enough energy to power the Empire State Building for three-and-a-half years or annual energy consumption of the entire country of Cambodia. (Opower has a nifty energy savings ticker on its new website). As of today, the company is about a third of the way to its one terawatt hour by 2012 goal.