Wattz Up with Consumption Calculators? Newer Options Have Come a Long Way

calculator.pngWith the increasing likelihood of a federally mandated system for regulating carbon emissions (aka “cap and trade”), it is becoming apparent that businesses will soon be required to implement accounting measures to report on their emissions of greenhouse gases. A cornerstone measurement to be required in this process will be the consumption of services and products that require the use of fossil fuels.
This type of consumption tracking is entirely new to many businesses and consumers. Steps taken now to develop in-house capabilities or forming outside partnerships to account for carbon emissions will ensure the long-term success of your organization assuming the new laws come into place.

Web-based consumption calculation has evolved since it first hit the scenes in 2006 in the form of carbon calculators. Traditionally, carbon calculators factored in annual data from numbers of miles driven, number of flights taken, number of household members and the average cost of monthly utilities. Today, we are seeing an emerging trend in online consumption calculation in which advanced calculations are taking place behind the scenes to provide a more robust measurement of the energy consumed to fuel our lifestyles.
Specifically, we see the units of measurement migrating from tons of carbon emitted per year to watts per person. A significant emerging trend that we are seeing in the online calculators is the functionality for business and consumers to create online profiles that store their data, which enables long-term monitoring and assessment, supporting the user in their efforts to reduce consumption. Forum applications on these sites provide businesses with a critical avenue for communication with an audience of new and existing customers.
Some of the leading applications for online calculation of consumption include WattzOn, The Almanac and Wattbot. For an emerging energy assessment tool with enterprise applications, be sure to keep your eye on the work of AMEE.
WattzOn: This free online tool is intended to be used for tracking the energy needs of all the many aspects of your lifestyle. From iPods to rolls of toilet paper, Wattzon provides a novel and detailed presentation of your total energy consumption.
The Almanac: Still in it’s beta stage, The Almanac enables users to record consumption and provides a snapshot of their energy footprint along with recommendations for reducing the environmental impact of your lifestyle.
Wattbot: Through combining an analysis of energy usage and recommended strategies for the adoption of renewable energy resources, Wattbot is a one-stop online shop which connects businesses and consumers with cost saving strategies that also reduce the environmental impact of doing business.
AMEE: Although they are more about enterprise solutions for mapping, measuring and tracking carbon and energy usage, AMEE provides a powerful API that businesses can leverage to develop and deliver their own online consumption calculators for customers and internal systems.

David received his undergraduate degree in Geographic Information Sciences from James Madison University and completed an M.A. in International Development at Clark University. With over 10 years of experience in the field of environmental sustainability, David has worked for organizations such as Environmental Defense Fund, USDA, USGS and the Smithsonian Institute.Currently, David is a NetImpact member and an MBA candidate at the Presidio School of Management where his research focus is on developing market incentives for investment in environmental sustainability.

3 responses

  1. No matter how much folks from Silicon Valley want to make home energy auditing into a google mash-up, there is no replacing a live trained person.
    No two houses are alike, and while a system like these can give estimated solutions, they simply cannot give actionable steps that will reliably lead to results. The details that are needed to make real recommendation require a real audit, and a level of detail that is simple never going to come from a consumer driven website and from tables of average costs and results for typical houses. A recommendation to upgrade to a high efficiency furnace, might sound good, but if you over size it by 200% (common) and attach it to ducts that have 30% leakage (average in CA) and an attic with poorly performing insulation (average performance due to defects in installation, 50% lower then rated), then you just don’t get the results the only place it really matters – on your bill.
    These systems should not be confused with a real energy audit.

  2. Sam,
    You’ve made a great point and have stated it well.
    I agree with you that these online calculators can not replace the value of a formal residential or commercial energy audit. However, they are very effective tools for driving reduction in consumption and they foster the growth of energy budgeting as a lifestyle practice for businesses and consumers.
    What companies do you recommend for for commercial and residential home energy audits?
    – David

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