Wattbot: A Personalized Tool to Cut Consumer Energy Costs


Want to reduce your energy bills but don’t know where to start or what to do? Brain-numbed by all you need to know to make the best choices?

The quest is over.  Wattbot was designed with you in mind.Diane Loviglio of Wattbot at a conference

“Wattbot helps people save money on their energy,” says Wattbot’s co-founder and vice president of business development, Diane Loviglio.   “We do that by giving personalized energy-saving recommendations so that all a user has to do is type in his or her street address and from that we already have lots of data, which you can edit as needed.  Then, we provide personalized recommendations for what you can do to cut your energy costs.”

Watt who?

Wattbot is  a residential electricity monitoring and feedback system that allows users to track their home energy use and offers tips to reduce consumption. The company’s current five-member team grows as is needed. The tool launched in beta last year and the public beta began in January, 2010. The company has received some angel funding.

Quick instructions for Wattbot use

The site is designed for visual rather than textual learners.  It is void of easily-found instructions.  But, the tool really does make all the try-and-fail, try-and-get it attempts at using the tool worth your time. Here are some essential steps to get you started:

  1. Enter your address on the home page.  Unless you live in a densely populated West Coast area or some Eastern regions, you’ll likely see this:  “Sorry, Wattbot is not yet available in your area.”
  2. Not to worry.  Scroll down that same page and click on “create a sample Wattbot project,” or just use this address for step 1: 5 Timberline Dr, Poughkeepsie, NY.
  3. “Edit” will be your favorite word on the page that then crops up. Use the light blue icons to change the pre-populated data to suit your home and environment. It is here that all the personalized data is entered so that you get recommendations specific to you.

“Personalized data is really what drives people with action and we’re all about helping people take action to reduce their energy bills,” says Loviglio.

What can you get from Wattbot?

While some sites that tout energy efficiency offer the tired cliché “turn your thermostat down and put on a sweater,” Wattbot attempts to “simplify that problem and solution,” says Loviglio. “We know not everyone is an environmentalist; Wattbot is here to simplify your life and help you lower your bills.”

If you go though all the data input steps and really do make the sample project as close to your reality as possible, you might learn that—for your particular home—investing in a new Energy Star refrigerator really cost you money rather than save you—and that you might do better adding wall cavity insulation.

And, you learn the upfront costs, the anticipated savings and the rationale behind the recommendations. You also get a list of contractors and suppliers in your area to help make the recommendation a reality should you choose.

Providers associated with Wattbot

Loviglio says there are thousands of providers who have registered their services for free on the site, just as consumers do.  There is a difference, though.  Consumers are given a list of “best matching providers” for free when they get their energy-savings recommendations. If they choose one of the providers, they fill out a pop-up Web form which goes to Wattbot.  Wattbot then charges the provider—who has been given a $500 credit by the company—between $20 and $200 to receive the information you provided as a lead.

“We don’t make money on product recommendations,” Loviglio points out. “We are unbiased in our recommendations.”

The technology behind the tool

The tech geniuses behind Wattbot have taken Amazon’s database and merged it with the appliance database from Energy Star.  To that mix, they’ve added their own database of mid-price energy-saving products. They’ve merged in municipal, state and federal rebates and any incentive programs. They’ve developed complex algorithms that deal with climate, your site-specific data, energy prices and your usage characteristics. And, they update all this each day.

If you take the time to become familiar with the site and how it works, and the time to input your specific information, you really can get a personalized recommendation.

Wattbot’s future plans

Right now, Wattbot makes recommendations about solar hot water, solar electric, insulation, refrigerators and dishwashers.  But, it plans to include additional household essentials.

It also plans to create its own financing arm so that if you are, say, interested in adding solar panels to your abode, you’ll be able to apply for financing from the company.

Jennifer Hicks is a freelance journalist and the lead editor of SmartBrief on Sustainability, a free daily e-newsletter that offers a round up of the day's most important news for businesses and consumers interested in sustainability issues. Her work has appeared on several health, business and political Web sites.

2 responses

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  2. Great article! This site has some great tools, but it's a lot of work – you have to have time and be committed I think I would just want a contractor to come out an do a free audit and walk me through the numbers. I like to get the education of what things I should work on then I can be looking to do those in the future.

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