Competition may just be the key to getting normal people to adopt energy efficiency. Keeping up with the Joneses is a lot more important to most people than saving money (otherwise, we’d never buy an expensive car to impress the neighbors.)

That’s why I’m excited to hear about JouleBug, a social App/game for the iPhone (and soon Android) that turns saving energy into a reality-based friendly competition.

Players compete to earn badges from various energy-saving activities

JouleBug launched today at the South by Southwest Trade show. Press release follows.

JouleBug, First Social App Game for Sustainable Energy, Launches at SXSWi

JouleBug, a free app for the iPhone, encourages users to learn energy-saving habits in practical, social ways. JouleBug players earn points, pins and badges for saving energy and can compete with friends on Facebook; the Badge Genius learns a user’s habits over time and recommends new badges to work towards to make the highest impact.

JouleBug can also be linked to the user’s power company account, allowing them to see the dollar value of their energy savings from playing JouleBug.

Austin, TX –
Today JouleBug, a new social app that encourages energy-saving habits through friendly competition, launched at the South by Southwest Tradeshow.

A free iPhone app, JouleBug provides users with practical, easy-to-implement tips for saving energy in the real world. It’s a reality-based, casually-social game that rewards users with points, pins and badges for learning and practicing energy-saving habits in their day-to-day lives. Users can link JouleBug to their Facebook and Twitter accounts to share and play with friends.

Players can also link the game to their power company account; JouleBug will create a graph showing energy-savings over time, making the individual benefit of good energy habits clear.

“Saving energy is not something you do once. It’s a lifetime goal, and it’s helpful to have a supportive community of friends working towards the same goals,” says co-founder James Wicker. “At the personal level, players lower their energy usage and save on energy costs in a fun, easy way. On a larger scale, it’s a way to lower the stress on the entire planet.”

The founders estimate that a family who spends $2,000 a year on energy could easily save an average of $300 through building good energy habits with the game.

JouleBug is designed as a frictionless app – users are invited to start building their energy savings without creating an account. Users are initially presented with a number of pre-selected tip badges to work towards; the Badge Genius learns a user’s habits over time, and begins recommending personalized badges based on the highest impact. New badges identify hidden energy costs and reveal ways a user might be wasting energy without knowing it. The app’s goal is to help users use less energy and spend less money without a lot of effort.

“We’re providing people with the knowledge to become wise consumers of energy,” says co-founder Grant Williard. “The requirements for all of our energy-saving badges have been designed by mechanical engineers. The points associated with a badge are related to the savings a player should expect, and as the Badge Genius learns more about the player, the more accurate the savings prediction becomes. This helps players better pick and choose what they want to work on and how they want to improve their efficiency.”

JouleBug uses social achievements and automatic integration into the social network to add significant moral incentives. Wicker explains, “These simple social media posts will increase our sustainability knowledge, evoke curiosity, admiration and esprit de corps for something we all play an active role in each and every day.”

JouleBug’s sequential art provides a simple “how-to” for every tip. In the future, there will be links to more information and videos on the Web as well. As an iPhone app, JouleBug makes it easy to take wait time and use it productively, wherever you are. Tips must be practiced multiple times before badges can be earned, giving players positive reinforcement to stay motivated. Players are also shown how small simple activities can become meaningful when given a global perspective.

JouleBug paces the player for as long as they receive a power bill. The player’s bill will be presented each month on the iPhone and once a player has played for a few months, it will be accompanied by the badge history so they can see how earning badges affected their power bill. This positive, data-based feedback helps reinforce JouleBug users’ good habits.

JouleBug can currently link with power companies in selected areas, covering about 10% of the United States. The founders anticipate having coverage in over 50% of the country in the next few weeks, and almost the entire country by year end.

The SXSW launch represents the first public version JouleBug. In the coming months, the founders will introduce versions for new platforms, as well as new features expanding the social aspects of the game.

Visit the JouleBug booth at SXSWi, Booth 645.

About JouleBug
JouleBug is a reality-based, casually-social game that encourages users to go green by building energy saving habits in a practical, fun way. Available soon as a free app for the iPhone, JouleBug encourages users to practice good energy habits in their everyday lives. Linking JouleBug to their power company account lets users keep easy track of their real-world energy savings.

And on Twitter (@joulebugs), and at SXSWi (Booth 645)
Available soon in the iTunes app store (search for JouleBug)

1 Comment

  1. […] same people who brought you JouleBug (of which I’m a fan, although I still don’t have a FaceBook account; I already spend too much time online as it […]

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