Pushing Green – Pushing the Needle on Green Savings

I had heard about Pushing Green (PG) from a few of my friends and I was really curious as to what it was all about. Recently, I went to their website to find out for myself.  The site claims 5133 total members, 295 challenges completed as of writing, $393K in energy savings, and 2207 tons of total carbon reduced.

‘Enter your address’.  With that simple piece of information it told me that my energy bill was around $257 which was fairly accurate.  What got me going further was that they said they could reduce it to $64 a month.  Of course I had to join the site to find out how.  A few inputs later (login, password, who to share photos and information with) I was a member.  Simple!

First stop to see how to reduce that energy bill.  I went to my profile and with no further input my estimated monthly energy bill had dropped down to $152, with a promise to reduce it to $38.  This differential remains a mystery as all I did between entering my address on the welcome screen and looking at my profile was to get a login account (no picture uploaded).  Clearly the folks at PG need to take a closer look at this. There must be an explanation I am sure!

There are many ways to go green and reduce your energy footprint. We all know that – we just don’t get around to it.  PG aims to get us going on this path in a fun sort of way.  The ‘Green Challenges’ section lets you challenge yourself and your friends (yes gratuitous Facebook blast included) and build a pyramid team – invite 100 Facebook friends who invite 100 of their friends and so on…Today there were about 25 challenges that were live.  These varied from decreasing the temperature of the water heater by 20 degrees to replacing incandescent bulbs with CFL’s to getting quotes on high-efficiency windows.  I decided to join the challenge of changing bulbs at an individual level.  10 incandescent bulbs switched to CFLS are supposed to save $150 per year, reduce my carbon footprint by 1.48 tons and get me 12 points on the PG scale.  Heck why not!  The challenges are based purely on an honor system.  Just to try it out I claimed I had changed bulbs around the house and the site congratulated me and told me that I had earned 10 points pushing my PG rating to 13.   Drilling deeper into the challenge itself, PG provides in-depth information on cost savings, energy savings, where to buy, and other information (in this case CFL) pertinent to the product.  And of course my honor-roll comment that I had changed the bulbs around the house found a place on the details page of the challenge.  Now we were social, and global!

Some enhancements that PG should consider are around claiming ‘Complete’ for a task or challenge.  There ought to be a way to back out the ‘Complete’ sticker.  Clearly, testing like I was doing is one use-case and there may be others. Maybe someone clicks it inadvertently.  Or, they are using PG as a green program management tool and there are different degrees of completion.  Hope that is on your feature-futures list guys!  Of course I had to go back to my profile to see if the energy savings as a result of replacing bulbs was reflected in my new estimated monthly energy bill.  I was hoping it would have dropped by say $12 a month (approximate savings of $150 a year thanks to changing the bulbs) and gone from $152 to $140 a month.  Instead, the original figure of $152 still stared me in the face… Digging a bit deeper I learnt that according to PG the energy bill savings were based on 7 product recommendations they had made for me (solar electricity, home energy audits, HVAC, Insulation, Window Replacement/Repair, Solar Hot Water Heating, Water Heaters – Electric and Tankless).  Obviously changing light bulbs and saving $150 a year did not factor into this.  Hopefully the real time ‘Challenges’ that one undertakes can be tied back into the profile to compute actual savings in a dynamic fashion.

Other areas of the site educate us on various initiatives one can engage in going green.  The ‘Products’ section lists out audits and service providers as well as products that will assist in living an eco-friendly lifestyle.  Getting a quote on home energy audits was as simple as providing a few details and then letting service providers reach out to me.  It was very easy.  Other sections include ‘Green News’ and ‘Forums’.  The forums themselves are well categorized and organized and cater to a host of topics from lifestyle, to politics, to products and technology discussions.

All in all a great concept and very well executed.  PG hopes to use the social, communal effect to help people become green aware and also embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle at one’s own pace.  Tying the various initiatives to measurable tangibles such as carbon footprint, and energy savings helps users directly correlate the benefit of the actions they take.  By riding on tactics such as Challenges, and peer-pressure the company hopes to leverage the social fabric when it comes to being eco-friendly.  If anything, eco-friendliness is about a coming together of everyone to do their little bit for the planet.  Clearly Pushing Green has hit a home run in identifying and capitalizing on this aspect of the green movement.  Good work guys!

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