Hackathon ideas that might save the planet


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We’re going to be one of the judges and prize-givers at this weekends HAPI Hack Weekend in our own San Francisco. There will be 100+ developers slinging code all weekend using our and other companies’ APIs. If you are coming along, this post is for you!

At Genability, our core mission is giving energy consumers (you and I, small business, large enterprises) more transparency, more choice and sharing the fruits of smarter energy consumption. With that in mind, our basic judging criteria will be to pick the apps that best empower the end user. Top marks to apps that:

  • give them more Transparency, (what are they paying),

  • turn facts into Actionable Insights (that have real value)

  • and do all this in an Appropriate context (most don’t want to spend hours analyzing their power usage and options)

If all else fails, create something that is fun or weird (Hot Tub Time Machine Calculator?). Bonus point go to apps that can tie in with our fellow API sponsors, Open-tok, Paypal, foursquare, box, twilio, mashery (and their hosted APIs), and factual.

We’re giving $500 to the best app using our APIs. Here’s some ideas to get the juices flowing ….

Current Price - what am I paying right now? See what you are using and what you are paying on the Web, on your phone, on your internet TV, on or Orb or HAN dashboard. Maybe receive notifications when energy use becomes subject to higher tariff, or when prices are low. Mash-up APIs from Plotwatt or Wattvision, Energy UFO etc.

Total Cost - What does that Big Screen Really Cost? When you walk into Best Buy to buy that sweet appliance, why not compare models using Lifetime Footprint & Energy Costs as a criteria. Could be a Revenue generating Opportunity! Scan in prospective electronics purchases, identify footprint (Wattzon), compare prices, help them check-out (Best Buy allows for online purchase). Mash-up APIS from Redlaser, Best Buy, Wattzon + Genability API

**Time Shift - do the dishes at 1am **Take activity that can be deferred from expensive times of day (afternoon) to cheap times of day (middle of the night). Automation is the holy grail here.

Location Shift - send traffic to off-peak data centers Florida is off-peak when California is on peak. Data-centers use a lot of power. Why not route traffic to where its cheapest? Power pricing varies significantly for server locations and time-of-day. While we only have residential data public right now (business data is coming very soon) you can “fake it” for now with residential tariffs. A simple tariff-aware routing algorithm could save significant amounts of traffic-induced energy costs. Mash-up Amazon Elastic Load Balancing API

Be your own utility - cost/benefit calculator Estimate the cost and value of generating and/or storing your own Power. For instance, Solar irradiation often coincides with peak electricity rates (i.e. when it shines the most power costs the most). Mash-ups of solar/wind/storage/V2G data with price data. And include available rebates, tax incentives and other factors for solar installs, EV purchases to get great total costs.

Though the possibilities are literally limitless, here are 7 hack ideas that we think would have tremendous value:

Solar Hack

Solar irradiation often coincides with peak electricity pricing. Mash-up: US Solar Irradiation Data with Genability Electricity Time-of-Use pricing plans, and provide true solar energy value forecasting.

Smart Meter Hack (Texas)

Smart Meter rollouts are happening right now. Mash-up: create a ‘View your SmartMeter data (energy use)’ coupled with electricity pricing data on any web-enabled device.

Energy Visualization (& Cost) Hack

There are numerous open source web-apps for processing, logging and visualizing energy data, and energy monitors, out there. Check out for example: openenergymonitor and itselectric. Mash-up visualization with electricity pricing, and add tremendous value with notifications of peak pricing events.

Commercial Building Hack

Within the next 3 years approximately 1.25 million small and mid-sized businesses will be defaulted to a Critical Peak Pricing plan in California alone. Mash-up accurate pricing from our APIs, load visualization (see above), notifications and even the rich EnergyIQ dataset to provide businesses real power over their energy.

Appliance Energy Cost Hack

Mash-up: Use appliance energy consumption data to estimate power consumption of appliances (even allow scan-in capabilities with the Redlaser SDK), and mash-in the relevant electricity pricing data relevant to the customer through our APIs.

EV Charging Cost Hack

Electric Vehicles are coming online. And so are varying tariffs for charging them. Access the accurate EV tariffs through our APIs, and provide a valuable mobile app to EV owners.

Time Shifting Hack

Not all kWhs are created equal. Mash-up an Energy Visualization Hack (above) with projected savings from time shifting energy-intensive activity, and provide real savings to homes and businesses.

Those are just a few thoughts. We encourage others to post their thoughts and ideas too! Please also feel free to contribute your ideas for energy hacks in comments to this post. We look forward to seeing you at the CleanWeb Hackathon.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Any time electricity decisions are made, whether its selecting your power company, working on your home or business facility, or going about your day, power is (or isn’t) consumed. Put a price on that and make it smarter.

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