Today on Greentech Media, Simple Energy was featured as “software that combines home energy technology and ‘game mechanics’ in a way that’s gotten some San Diego Gas & Electric customers to cut their power bills in half.” The article goes on to describe how the platform works to motivate people to save energy, explaining that “once they’re in the game, they tend to start taking pride in saving money, getting into conversations with friends and neighbors, and otherwise getting involved with the subject in a new way, driving long-term behavior changes.”
The article continues by quoting co-founder Yoav Lurie about how the game really works. “CEO and founder Yoav Lurie says the Boulder, Colo.-based startup’s method could yield unprecedented results. ‘We use game mechanics to achieve measurable and verifiable energy efficiency results,’ he said in an interview. In other words, getting customers to log on, get to know their neighbors and compete can actually yield deep and lasting efficiency results, according to Lurie.”
“That’s particularly true if a laptop is the potential reward, as it was in SDG&E’s contest, launched as part of the White House-backed Biggest Energy Saver Campaign last summer. The winner, a 43-year-old woman who used Facebook and email to interact with the platform, cut her power use by nearly 50 percent. But she also unplugged appliances and turned off most of her lights as the contest neared its end to make sure she got there, Lurie said. ‘It’s the same reason half of all Americans will buy a lottery ticket this year, or why grown men at a Giants game will literally pummel each other to get a free t-shirt that won’t fit them,’ is how Lurie described the competitive effect.”
Further describing the effects of game mechanics, the article explains how the social network effects of the Simple Energy platform effectively encourage customers to opt-in to the program. For example, in the San Diego pilot, there was a 20% opt-in rate, which far exceeds the typical rate of five percent that utility programs generate. In addition, once participants sign up, they can engage in both competitive and cooperative behavior, forming teams to compete with other groups in their area.