Compete for the Energy Efficiency Crown (and Save Money While You’re at It)

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People don’t get all that excited by the idea of saving a couple bucks—or even by the noble-but-intangible ideas of conservation or saving the environment. So what will get folks motivated to become more energy-efficient? Make it a competition and give out cash prizes. Because people love to win, and they really love to win money.

A new Facebook group with the straightforward, totally unsexy name Compete for Energy Efficiency is doing just that. The group is just getting started and is welcoming ideas for how exactly the competition might run. The group had 407 members when I checked, and if nothing else, folks were already tossing out simple, sensible energy-saving (and money-saving) tips, like using a power strip so you can turn off multiple appliances with the flick of one switch.

Though the group has yet to nail down many particulars, it looks like it will group members into communities who will then battle it out to see who can save the most energy. Perhaps there will be NCAA March Madness-type brackets, or several different parts of the U.S. or the world will contend against all comers at the same time in Battle Royal fashion.

From the Boston Globe’s Green Blog:

Communities that win competitions could pocket their savings — or donate them to a worthy cause.

“We are really tapping into human behavior,” said Pedzi Makumbe of MIT, who is launching the idea with Ilana Greene of Harvard and consultant Attila Forruchi. “For some people, the savings would be a few dollars a month, and [you] can’t even buy a beer with that. But let’s say . . . I’m really passionate about breast cancer and my energy change will go toward funding it. That may make me much more motivated.”

Once they figure out how to break members into groups and how to judge the competition, let’s get ready to rumble. This could be interesting. It’s certainly a step up from how most folks use Facebook—for looking up old boyfriends from summer camp, for instance.