Friday, March 1, 2013

Tracking every kilowatt hour

Mar 1, 2013
Startups & Venture Capital

Startup has consumers manage individual energy use

Taryn Plumb, Special to the Journal
Ben Bixby, co-founder and CEO of MyEnergy, said his startup hopes to help consumers take control of their energy usage.

W. Marc Bernsau 

In the halls of Congress, in the board room and at the kitchen table, energy use continues to be a major topic of discussion.
And while the U.S. continues to grapple with the big-picture issues, Boston-based MyEnergy aims to help consumers make small, daily differences by taking control of — and saving money on — their personal energy usage.
“We really built MyEnergy to help people individually realize this huge opportunity they have before them,” said MyEnergy CEO Ben Bixby, who co-founded the company in 2007 in Washington, D.C., and relocated it to Boston in 2011.
With a free account on MyEnergy’s website, residential users can quickly access a breakdown of their consumption of gas, water and electricity. MyEnergy retrieves and compiles the data through patent-pending technology — the system can read utility meters through the Web, without requiring users to install any hardware or software, Bixby said.
A study commissioned by the company showed that users saved as much as 14 percent during heating and cooling months, he said.
Users can also receive tailored tips, compare their habits to friends and neighbors and earn rewards for saving energy. For instance, one point is awarded for every kilowatt hour of electricity saved, every 10 cubic feet of natural gas saved and every 100 gallons of water saved. Those points can then be redeemed for prizes, including gift cards and Segway tours, through small and local businesses which have entered into a free partnership with MyEnergy.
“You get more and better information than you’d otherwise get through your utility, you get it quicker, and you get it in context,” Bixby said.
And the more you use it, he said. “the more it learns about how it can better help you.”
MyEnergy is backed by a $4 million Series A round, announced in early 2011 and led by Point Judith Capital, Clean Energy Venture Group and Capital-E. The company earns revenue via a premium service for utilities, which aims to help the utilities to meet objectives and increase customer savings. MyEnergy is also working with partners to create and host third-party applications and offerings based on its platform.
The 12-employee company is “growing fast but deliberately,” Bixby said — particularly in its engineering department.
The company didn’t disclose user numbers, but Bixby said MyEnergy has users in all 50 states covering more than 1,500 utilities, and has forged hundreds of partnerships with businesses through its rewards program.
David Paolino, a user from Rhode Island, said he figures he saved about $900 over three years.
Previously, he was spending what he called “exorbitant” amounts of money on energy, until he found MyEnergy and got “hooked” on the idea of closely monitoring his usage and getting rewards for making strides.
He stressed that it’s not about huge life changes.
“Most people think you have to take leaps and bounds to curb energy use,” he said, but “small changes can really make a difference.”

Original story link here.

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