Posts for category "Outlier"

The people have spoken: America’s favorite way to save energy during winter is…

  • By Barry Fischer and Aaron Tinjum
  • February 6, 2014

Winter is notorious for high energy usage. December, January, and February unleash America’s highest energy consumption of any consecutive 3-month period.

In addition to triggering a spike in the use of instant hot cocoa — winter weather also prompts a gigantic spike in the use of heating energy – primarily via natural gas and electricity (and to a lesser extent, heating oil and propane).

Likewise, Opower’s own energy data storehouse – the world’s largest, spanning more than 50 million households – suggests that this year’s winter energy consumption is off to a running start. During the last several weeks, as temperatures plummeted, electric power demand in the East hit record highs. Even the Chicago Zoo’s polar bear moved into a heated chamber. And nationwide in mid-January, the weekly volume of natural gas withdrawn from underground storage facilities – 287 billion cubic feet, piped to heat buildings as well as feed power plants – was the largest ever recorded in the US.

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May the most energy efficient team win: Seattle defeats Denver in this year’s Efficiency Bowl

  • By Barry Fischer
  • January 29, 2014

If your NFL team wants to go to the Super Bowl, it helps to have an efficient quarterback.

Just look at this year’s matchup. First off, Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson holds the NCAA single-season record for “passing efficiency” – a composite calculation based on completions, yards, touchdowns, interceptions, and passing attempts.  And Wilson’s nemesis in this Sunday’s game, the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning, is the second most efficient passer in NFL history

As a company built on promoting efficiency, we vigorously applaud Wilson and Manning’s achievements. Our real expertise, however, is not in passing efficiency — but rather in energy efficiency. And so with Super Bowl XLVIII just days away, our question is: how do Denver and Seattle stack up on energy efficiency?

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Washing hands with hot water isn’t killing germs, but it may be overheating your energy bill

  • By Aaron Tinjum
  • December 20, 2013

From all the coughing, wheezing, sniffing, and sneezing, you don’t need a doctor to tell you that it’s cold and flu season. Around this time of year, we are routinely reminded to wash our hands with soap and hot water to ward off these undesirable illnesses. 

Recently, however, new research reported by National Geographic suggests that hand washing in hot water is no more effective than cold water in killing unwanted germs or bacteria.

We aren’t medical professionals and aren’t in a position to formally comment on the health dimensions of habitual hot-water hand washing. We are, however, experts in energy efficiency.

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About Outlier

Outlier explores trends in how people are using energy at home. 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 75 utility partners every day, and cross-references that with weather, household, and demographic information to produce compelling analyses in the Outlier series.