EarthAid is a brand new system designed to help you monitor your energy usage and encourage you to reduce it. They provide a database of energy saving tips and users who carry these out successfully will receive points for the energy that they save. This applies not just to electricity use, but both water and gas as well. The service ties in with your online account for your utility providers so will track your energy use automatically. Points can be exchanged for rewards from the partner network that EarthAid has set up. Usefully, they also provide information on the various tax incentives that are applicable. For example, if one of the actions you are considering is purchasing a new Energy Star qualified refrigerator they will link to the relevant tax rebates that you are entitled to.
Sign up is free, and the company makes clear that they intend to keep it that way. The first thing that you need to do is link your energy accounts. You can select your utility providers from a pre populated drop down menu and enter your login details. Obviously, your utility provider will need to provide online access to your bills, but from a few trials on their system it seems that the majority of providers do offer this. If your provider doesn’t allow this, I suggest you contact them because the sooner we can escape the black box of energy billing, the better. If you successfully link your energy bills then your data will be fed into EarthAid and you can monitor your energy usage, similarly to Google PowerMeter.
After accessing your energy data, the next step is to go about reducing it. EarthAid make this easy by providing a sortable list of energy saving tips, categorized by the cost, the potential energy savings and the work required to make them happen. Again, this applies to electricity, water and gas so if you are only interested in starting with one of these energy sources, or only have access to an online account for one of them then you can filter the tips for whichever one you need. The tips are plentiful and useful, although I’m sure that many more will be added in due course. Each tip also links to any incentives that are available. You can mark off the tips that you have completed and save others to a personalized energy saving to-do list, which is a nice touch.
The social features are also interesting. You can add friends and compare your energy usage and savings to theirs, which for the competitive people out there is only end up in even greater energy savings. There is also scope for some very interesting aggregation of data. You can see how your energy usage compares to the average. At this early stage, this average is calculated based on homes in all locations and of all sizes, which temporarily limits comparisons, but this will become more personalized and relevant as the service increases its user base. It’s also interesting to see the monthly and seasonal fluctuations in average energy use, which quite clearly peaks in both Winter and Summer, presumably for heating and air conditioning respectively.
Throughout all of this, it must be noted that the design and interface are fantastic. The set up is straightforward and your energy data is displayed in attractive tables and graphs. Navigation is easy and there are plenty of tools to help you find the energy saving ideas that are right for you. The integration with energy utility providers is also impressive, making it incredibly easy to analyze your energy use.
So, what rewards are available? As you build up your points you can exchange them for various offers made by businesses around the country. These tend to be discounts on products or services from organizations that have an eco/environmental theme. For example, 15% off CFL bulbs or 10% off eco-consultation services. They tend to be geo-located so you will be paired up with reward partners that are in your area. As more and more partners sign up the offers will become more extensive and possibly more competitive. This is where the EarthAid business model kicks in as partners will have to pay for the exposure being a partner brings them. There is also an accompanying e-commerce site that sells much of the equipment required to save energy. For example, when you read the tip suggesting you switch out incandescent bulbs for energy saving CFL ones, they link to the EarthAid Kit site where you can purchase them, much like we do.
EarthAid also talk about the possibility of using the energy saved by its customers as offsets to be sold on a carbon market, which is an interesting idea to say the least. I get the impression they are still working on the finer details of this, but it could be important. Potentially, contracting people to reduce the energy they use is as valid a carbon offsetting technology as reforestation or carbon capture. It’s an idea we’ve seen others such as MyEmissionsExchange, but there will be the usual obstacle of needing a way to ensure that carbon offsets aren’t granted for savings that would have happened anyway. Anyway, the EarthAid service is great right now, with enormous potential for the future as it goes. I suggest you sign up right now and check it out for yourself.
This post is categorized: Green Websites / In Depth Reviews / Off Grid Living / Plentyways.com / Profiles and tagged: EarthAid / Energy Star / Google PowerMeter / MyEmmissionsExchange / Reduce Energy Use