Posts for category "Outlier"

May the most energy efficient team win: New England edges out Seattle in this year’s Efficiency Bowl

  • By Aaron Tinjum
  • January 29, 2015


Is it true that Tom Brady — one of the most efficient passers in NFL history — may have schemed his way into the big game?

That’s the well-documented controversy surrounding the kickoff of this year’s Efficiency Bowl.

We aren’t NFL insiders, so we can’t formally comment on the pigskin pressure problem that is “Deflategate.”

We are, however, experts in utility innovation. And there’s no deflating the fact that both Massachusetts and Washington are national leaders in clean technology, consumer engagement, and energy efficiency. So, with Super Bowl XLIX just days away, how do the two teams — their stadiums, fan bases, cities, and states — stack up when it comes to getting the most out of their energy use? Let’s take a look.

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10 energy numbers to remember from 2014

  • By Barry Fischer, Aaron Tinjum, and Casey Davis-Van Atta
  • December 13, 2014

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Sometimes energy makes headlines, sometimes it doesn’t. But it almost always has important implications for the global economy, the environment, and our day-to-day lives.

Here are 10 energy statistics from 2014 that capture some of the most noteworthy trends of the year, and that will shape the energy world in the years to come.

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9% of solar homes are doing something utilities love. Will others follow?

  • By Barry Fischer and Ben Harack
  • December 1, 2014

The sun is shining on more solar panels than ever before. In the US, a new solar project is installed every 3.2 minutes and the number of cumulative installations stands at more than 500,000.

Pull out your compass, and you’ll observe that most of these solar installations point southward. There’s a good reason why: south-facing panels capture the most sunlight and produce the most energy over the course of a year.

But as of late, many energy thinkers are pivoting toward the western sky. They’ve pointed out that west-facing solar panels are better at generating power in the late afternoon – when the grid can benefit the most from the extra juice. A field study last year of 50 solar homes in Texas verified this west-facing advantage, and some sunny states are already betting on it. In September, the California Energy Commission lit the way when it announced a $500 incentive for the installation of west-facing panels on new homes.

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So, how many rooftop solar systems currently point west? How many don’t? What’s at stake for utilities and consumers? And what are the implications for designing the power grid of tomorrow?

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About Outlier

Outlier explores trends in how people are using energy in the US and around the world. Pulling from an unprecedented (and still growing) amount of energy data—currently drawn from 50 million homes—Opower crunches energy-use information from more than 90 utility partners every day, and cross-references that with weather, household, and demographic information to produce compelling analyses in the Outlier series.