Energy Consumption Tracking Service to Save Money and Help Others

 

Lauren Lukens, Morgan Ginter, Monica Pagani, and Kyle Kleiman

 

Project Title: 10 words

 

Energy Consumption Tracking Service to Save Money and Help Others

 

Requested Amount: $500

 

Expected Amount of time to Complete Project: 6 months

 

Describe your Project: 500 words

 

We will create website that allows people to track their carbon emissions in their daily lives, which will also be available in an Android and iPhone app. Just like a calorie counting app, our product will be based off a point system. Since carbon footprints are generally measured with global hectares, which refers to the amount of productive land and water, the point system will be based off how many global hectares are used. The more points one gains, the more carbon that they are emitting from their activities. Not only would this product incorporate energy consumption through their electricity and gas use, but water use, new products bought, amount recycled, trash output, paper use, and more could be documented to get an overall understanding of one’s environmental impact.

According to footprintnetwork.org, “the average Ecological Footprint per person worldwide is 2.6 global hectares,” which equals 6.5 global acres. We believe that if people are willing to invest their time into this free app, which would go with them everywhere they do, the average ecological footprint would decrease. If the user allowed notifications on their smartphone or other handheld device, this app would be a constant reminder to be cautious of consumption in a country that is known to be wasteful. With climate change becoming an increasing problem worldwide, this is a major concern for us and a goal we strive for.

While the app would certainly allow people to better understand their carbon footprint and the impact they are making on the environment, this app relies on self-report. A downfall to this could be that people over- or underestimate their carbon emissions, especially due to self-report bias, which is the idea that people sometimes lie about their actions to make themselves appear better. While the carbon emission counter would be the main selling point of our website and app, a virtual resource library would also be available through the product. We will create a virtual library that provides options that can reduce one’s carbon footprint. This would provide suggestions on how ways to reduce carbon emissions, thus save money, help people around the world, save wildlife, and more. Lessons about why carbon emissions matter, the impact of climate change, and more would be available through our product.

While we believe that consumers may lack motivation to keep up with this application, which would require them to manually input activities, there would be incentive to save money by reducing energy use. With proper advertising, we feel there would be plenty of people willing to invest their time to decrease their emissions, especially if it personally benefits them financially. Through our interviews with potential consumers, we found that most people would be interested in at least learning about their carbon footprint, and this app could be a simple way to educate people across the country. Over time, after gaining customer attention and more money, we could even incorporate games into the app for a “kid-friendly” version to attend to a younger target audience.

 

What unmet need does your product meet? 200 words

 

Too often, people are unaware of the local resources available to them to reduce their carbon footprint. Our program will tell users what their carbon footprint is and what steps they can take to reduce it. While many people know that they have a large carbon footprint, they may be unaware how to reduce it or think that it is too difficult. By providing users with manageable suggestions, they can reduce their carbon footprint without being intimidated. We aim to make people aware that they do not have to drastically change their lifestyles in order to have a positive environmental impact, and that even small steps help. Our products connects potential consumers with products and services that allow them to have less of an impact on the environment, making our users aware of new and exciting solutions. The points aspect will help motivate people to reduce their carbon footprint. Many people struggle with staying motivated to do this, and our program aims to address this issue. Users will have the ability to compare their points with their friends and relatives, motivating them to keep their points count low. Additionally, they will be able to compare their points value with others in their city, state, and country.

 

Interview four potential users of your product about this unmet need. Do not tell them about your idea. Just explore their need. What did you learn? Include names and contact info for interviewees and a few words describing each — age, gender, occupation, town where of residence. Go for variety. 200 words.

 

Matt G (ginters@comcast.net): 16, male, high school student, Wixom, MI. Overall, Matt has little motivation to reduce his carbon footprint, and wants to know how doing so benefits him directly. There is little public transportation where he lives, so he drives to school and his other activities and has little desire to change this. Since he is still supported by his parents, he feels that he needs their support to make major changes in reducing his carbon footprint.

 

Elaine Gerou (elaine.gerou@apps.schoolcraft.edu): 20, female, community college student, Canton, MI. Elaine says that she would use an app that tracked her carbon footprint, even if it required her to input her activities manually. She thinks suggestions to decrease emissions, save money, and help wildlife would help motivate her to lives a “greener” lifestyle.

 

Danica Harris (dmhar@umich.edu), 22, Female, Senior at the University of Michigan, moving to NYC in 2016. I think it would be nice to have comprehensive list that goes into your carbon footprint, especially for things that you don’t necessarily think about but use energy. If there was a product out there that could help me track my carbon footprint I would definitely be open to trying at.. At least for a few weeks. I think it would be nice to be more aware of how much energy I use on a daily basis. It would be cool to have something that was maybe connected to an outdoor company, something that could give you incentives to reduce carbon footprints or recommend products to help reduce energy consumption.

 

Harry Jawanda (hjawanda@umich.edu), 21, Male, Junior at the University of Michigan, Harry said that he thinks that an initiative to track carbon usage and footprint would be an important and ecologically important idea. He also thinks that Ann Arbor is a very important location to start ecologically important ideas.

 

How big is the potential market for your idea? Mention sources for any statistics you use. 100 words

 

Our potential market would span to homeowners across the United States. Our market includes adults and teenagers as that is who our suggestions are tailored to, but we could expand to include children in the future. Per the EPA, the United States was responsible for 16 percent of the Global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in 2011. This same year, the US was only responsible for about four percent of the world’s population. This shows that clearly there is a problem with emissions in the US, and that every American should be concerned with their environmental impact, thus their carbon footprint.

 

How is your idea innovative — new or different from something already existing? Name your closest competitiors – 200 words

 

DTE Energy provides apps for consumers to track their energy usage and gives suggestions to improve it. This is directly correlated with someone’s electric and gas bill from DTE. This is our biggest competitor since they are the sole energy provider within the MidWest, and they are ahead of the game with their app. We are unsure if other energy providers in different regions have similar apps. Our Digital library and app are unique because we are creating an interactive tool that shows energy consumption in an easy and understandable way. The app is free, and it would go beyond electric and gas consumption — recycling, trash, new purchases, and more would be included to give consumers a better overall understanding of their impact of the environment. The use of the point system in energy consumption would be an innovative way to show people how the consume energy and place goal amounts on energy consumption to reduce carbon footprints. In addition to having the carbon tracking feature our website goes one step further and provides solutions to reducing carbon emissions that are integrated into the website/app/library. Our product also provides information about how their energy daily activities are affecting wildlife, people around the world, and more. Overall, our idea provides a streamlined tool for tracking and reducing energy consumption that is not found in other products.

 

How will your idea be financially sustainable? 150 words

We will have advertisements on our app, which will help raise money to fund our project. If enough there is enough traffic on our app, we should have a continually renewing source of finance. By creating a point system for people to compare their results with friends and different averages, we should have a fair amount of regular users every day. In addition, we could offer suggestions for people who want to diminish their carbon footprint, help wildlife or other people, et cetera. These “sponsored products”, which would help a person lower their carbon footprint, would help to both get publicity for a company’s product and to raise money for our app. There may even be a way to create a premium version of this app, which would offer more resources for consumers for a low cost. By collaborating with different businesses, premium members would be able to access certain deals at these businesses, which would be unavailable otherwise.

 

Why are you and your team the right people to develop this project? 100 words

 

Our team is the right group of people to develop this project because we have a passion for the environment and have felt frustrated by the lack of information on how to realistically reduce one’s carbon footprint. We are all avid smartphone and internet users who know what would appeal to our audience. Additionally, we are interested in working with environmentally friendly organizations and companies to foster a network from which we can all benefit. Our group strives to reduce our own carbon footprints and have a positive impact on the environment, and this program would help us and others accomplish this goal.

Advertisements

About laurenlukens

University of Michigan

4 Responses to “Energy Consumption Tracking Service to Save Money and Help Others”

  1. Hey Lauren I really like your idea about the carbon footprint app! I think that this is definitely a useful app and a lot of people will probably use this. The one big problem I think that you’re going to run into with this app is that there are already a lot of apps that do this. Im actually pretty sure that there is already an app that does exactly what you’re asking your app to do. I think that you’re gonna have to really try to find something unique to your app that the other apps don’t have.

  2. Thanks so much for your feedback! We will definitely look into other similar apps, and see what they are missing in order to develop a unique product. Some of our group members had used programs that allowed us to track our carbon footprint int he past, but did not feel empowered to change it. We hope to provide users with tools to make progress, no matter how small, in reducing their carbon footprint. I think that setting ourselves apart from our competitors will be a big challenge, and thank you for pointing this out to us!

  3. Hi, Lauren, Morgan, Monica and Kyle. It’s great to see that you’re thinking about how to distinguish your app from others related to carbon footprints. The fact that there many apps currently exist to address this same topic isn’t bad. It shows there’s a lot of interest in this area. As you recognize, your challenge is to find a better way to meet the needs of potential users.

    Here are a couple of lists ranking the best carbon footprint apps:
    http://www.appolicious.com/curated-apps/2553-top-rated-carbon-footprint-apps

    http://appcrawlr.com/ios-apps/best-apps-carbon-footprint

    Here’s one that was featured in an interesting Grist story:
    http://grist.org/people/the-new-app-that-tracks-your-carbon-footprint-and-lords-it-over-your-friends/

    One thing you might consider is possibly partnering with an organization, such as Grist, that already attracts an audience of people interested in environmental issues.

    Good luck! I’m looking forward to seeing where you take this idea.

  4. Thank you for your suggestions! We will definitely look into the apps that you mentioned and see if they would be a good fit for us to partner with. It is important for us to learn about other similar products so that we can differentiate ourselves from them. I think that we will have a lot to discuss at our next team meeting and will have to do some research on these other applications.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s