A new Facebook app will enable consumers to quickly and easily benchmark their home’s energy usage against similar homes, compare energy use with friends, and share tips on how to become more energy efficient.

The social energy app is an initiative of Facebook, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), software provider Opower, and 16 utility companies. More than 20 million households within the 16 participating utilities’ territories will be able to take advantage of the app’s “Utility Connect” feature, allowing customers to choose to have their energy use automatically update each month. These utilities and energy providers include:
•Austin Utilities (Minnesota)
•Burbank Water & Power
•ComEd
•Connexus Energy
•Consumers Energy
•Direct Energy (coming in 2012)
•Glendale Water & Power
•Loveland Water and Power
•National Grid (New York and Massachusetts)
•New Jersey Natural Gas (coming in 2012)
•Owatonna Public Utilities
•Pacific Gas and Electric Company
•City of Palo Alto Utilities
•PPL Electric Utilities Corp.
•Rochester Public Utilities
•Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC

According to the NRDC, improvements in energy efficiency have the potential to deliver more than $700 billion in cost savings in the U.S.

“If every household in the U.S. cut back on electricity use by a mere 1%, that alone would cut more than $1.6 billion off of Americans’ annual energy bills.  That’s the same as taking more than 1.2 million homes off the grid all together,” says NRDC attorney Brandi Colander.