Guest Commentary from EcoDog, Inc: 5 Ways to Keep Your Cool While Reducing Energy


While summer temperatures are close to the 100 degree mark in places across the country, it can be a challenge to reduce energy while the air conditioner is going full force. Here are five things you can do to reduce energy consumption and costs while keeping your cool:

1. Run or install ceiling fans to circulate the air instead of using the air conditioner. Today’s ceiling fans are very economical and have various settings including one to reverse the blades to optimize air circulation.

2.  If your home is well insulated, keep your windows closed to keep in the cooler air. If not, it’s wise to look into energy saving insulation. And, you may qualify for a 10 percent Federal energy tax credit for buying qualified energy efficient improvements. To qualify for the tax credit, the energy improvement must meet or exceed the criteria established by the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code. The home insulation improvements must be made inside the taxpayer’s main home in the United States.

3. Run dishwashers and washer/dryers later in the evening, during non-peak usage times. The electric utilities are charging us all more to use appliances during peak times. By running appliances later in the evening, you’ll save $$ and keep you house cooler too!

4. Use energy-efficient light bulbs and don’t forget to use more energy-efficient landscape lighting! This is an area that many homeowners forget to check. Did you check the timer to adjust for longer daylight hours? Can you reduce the number of hours that the lights are on?5.

5. Invest in a home energy monitoring system. As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. By understanding where you’re using the most energy – whether it’s the washer/dryer or your kid’s gaming center, by identifying the energy hogs in your home you can adjust the time and length of operation. Or, you might find that the extra refrigerator you have in the garage or man-cave is not up to EnergyStar® standards and is costing you a bundle to power. Easy-to-use monitoring software can help you understand your energy usage habits and arm you with information that can help you not only understand where you’re using the most energy – room by room – but will also help you understand your utility bill! The investment is well worth it and will pay for itself in no time. Typical users of our home energy management system, FIDO®, are seeing 20-30 percent savings.

Here’s to more money in your pocket and staying cool!


Twitter Down: #Olympics to Blame?


Today, look social networkers across the globe were unable to access their Twitter accounts for the second time in just over a month.  Initial stories pointed towards a possible link to the 2012 Olympics which start tomorrow (7/27).   The notion seemed very possible as earlier this week, a twitter spokesperson told the Associated Press (AP), “There were more tweets about the 2012 Olympics on a single day last week than there were during the entire Beijing Games.”  However, it has since been confirmed that the downtime is a result of something greater than the mass volume of #Olympics tweets.

According to the AP, the outage was due to a double failure in its data centers.  Twitter’s services rely on two parallel systems (when one fails, the other takes over).  However, today Twitter’s redundant setup experienced failure with both systems, making the widely used social media service unavailable for two hours.  On June 21, Twitter experienced a similar outage which was caused by “a cascading bug in one of our infrastructure components.”  No comments have been made linking these two instances.

DOE and Software Developers are Driving Energy Saving Tools


The U.S. Energy Department’s Apps for Energy competition is offering $100, in prizes to software developers for the best new apps that help utility customers make the most out of their Green Button electricity usage data. Green Button is an open standard for sharing electricity data that will be available to millions of utility customers. Understanding energy usage is at the pinnacle of making better informed energy decisions and reducing costs.

Having easy-to-use and understandable insight into energy usage puts the power back into the consumer’s hands, literally. Saying that I used 50 kilowatts of power last month on my utility bill is not useful. This lack of meaningful information from utilities has launched a new industry known as Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS). These systems offer consumers an energy management tool that is tailored to their particular lifestyle. And, thanks to some very creative folks in the industry, many of these tools are very user-friendly.  One software tool in particular from EcoDog can not only show you where you’re using energy and how to save dollars, they’re app can show you how much money you’d save installing solar or predict how much it will cost you to run your electric vehicle. Very cool!

The Smart Grid is a brave new world for utilities and thanks to open standards, developers will be instrumental in creating useful tools to help us understand energy usage better and positively change our behaviors.

Yep, there’s an app for that…now, if I could just move to the next level in Angry Birds!

PJ Jennings

Rules of (Customer) Engagement


#1 If a business has a story to tell, public relations is the way to tell it.

#2 If a business doesn’t have a story to tell—it does, or else it wouldn’t be in business—see #1.

Every business has something to sell and every CEO wants traffic in the door. Educating reporters and consumers about your business’s product/technology/service is vital to customer adoption (sales). The more the press understands what you do and the context in which you do it, they will be more apt to mention the business in relevant (and repeated) articles.

Of course, many executives don’t have the time nor the specific resources to become a media guru and that’s where PR comes in. Public relations is the practice of learning and listening to clients’ stories and then taking those golden message nuggets to the appropriate audiences. New product launch? Check. Customer wins? Check. New CEO? Check. Regardless of whether a company is B2B or B2C, it’s important that the company’s messages are clear and reinforced in the minds of the right people.

From news releases and case studies to contributed articles and interview opportunities and social media campaigns, there are many ways to build a steady stream of excitement around your brand.  There’s no one-size-fits-all; the right approach is the one that meets the communication goals of the company.

We want all businesses to know that PR is not only applicable to them, but an important component in increasing sales.  Maybe a podcast is the right touch. Maybe the cover of a targeted trade magazine will get you in front of your prospects. Certainly, coverage in The New York Times wouldn’t hurt! Wherever you are in your communications efforts, it’s never too late (or early) to get public relations specialists involved in communicating your story.  And remember, PR builds your brand – not advertising. So if you want to improve sales, start with a focused PR program.

Whatever you do. . . Push the Green Button!


To meet a recent call to action from President Obama to develop a strategy to assist consumers in lowering their energy costs, several utilities across the country have been compiling customers’ energy usage data and organizing it into a uniform format as a part of the launch of the Green Button initiative.  The program aims to provide more than 15 million households the ability to track, monitor, and better understand their home energy usage in a straight forward, easy to understand layout.  On March 22nd, the White House issued a press release detailing the initiative, as well as several companies involved in advancing the unified Green Button formula to be more useful to home owners as well as applicable to other customer demographics including commercial buildings.

Working with San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), EcoDog Inc. has developed a Green Button app that can quickly and easily make use of the utility’s data.  The app, which is a scaled down version of the company’s highly sophisticated FIDO home energy management system, allows home owners to take their personal energy consumption data provided by SDG&E’s  Green Button and view energy usage as well as potential energy savings from installing a solar system or charging of an electrical vehicle.  EcoDog’s fully-featured FIDO Home Energy Watchdog is an easy-to-use hardware/software system that shows homeowners exactly how and where they are consuming electricity on a real-time basis with room-by-room detail to achieve typical monthly savings of 15 to 30 percent and more. EcoDog’s FIDO system also offers advanced monitoring of solar and alternative energy generation.

While society has had its sights on becoming more energy efficient for some time, it’s a slow moving process and the first tool needed is education.  Having a firm understanding of your energy usage can allow you to make minor (or major) lifestyle changes that can greatly reduce your energy consumption.  The Green Button initiative gives home owners an introduction to home energy management and is a forward step in understanding energy consumption in a way that is more understandable and actionable.  Finally, it’s getting easier to be green!

© Copyright Jennings & Associates Communications, Inc.