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Popular Choice Winners Announced for “Apps for Energy” Competition

The Energy Department announced the Popular Choice 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.  Popular Choice awards reflect the results of public voting at http://appsforenergy.challenge.gov, which ran from May 17 to May 31 and involved over 12,000 participants. Other winners in the competition were selected by a panel of expert reviewers and announced May 22 at Connectivity Week, a gathering of smart grid industry leaders in Santa Clara, California.

“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.”

In April, the Department launched Apps for Energy -- challenging developers to create apps that were designed to make the best use of the data provided through the President’s Green Button initiative, through which nine major utilities and electricity suppliers will provide more than 31 million customers with access to data about their own energy use. Learn more about the announcement HERE.

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 public may now use all of the Apps by visiting http://appsforenergy.challenge.gov/submissions.

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 best overall student application, wotz, won $15,000, and the second place student application, Budget It Yourself, won $7,500.  VELObill, the winner of the public vote, will receive $8,000 and second place public vote winner, Innovative Solar Demand Response, will be awarded $4,000. 

Winners for the “Apps for Energy” Popular Choice competition are:
Popular Choice Grand 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.

Popular Choice Second Prize: Innovative Solar Demand Response
Location: Dayton, OH
This app uses Green Button Data to size a Solar PV and a battery system based on average peak energy demand of a home during different hours of the day. The battery is charged by solar PV during daytime (when solar radiation is available) and a charge/discharge controller would release the stored energy during peak times, when energy production is more costly.
 
Winners Chosen by the Expert Panel 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.

A diverse panel drawn from government and the energy and tech communities evaluated the apps. The panel includes:

  • Karen Austin, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  • Patricia Hoffman, Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Energy Department
  • Sharelynn Moore, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Itron, Inc.
  • Aaron Shapiro, Chief Executive Officer, HUGE
    Bill Reichert Managing Director at Garage Technology Ventures


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