It isn’t always fun to look at the numbers, but creators of the Energy Bee app found a way to make energy data more compelling. Over a weekend at the Boston Cleanweb Hackathon, four software engineers used UtilityAPI to create a prize-winning app called Energy Bee. The app provides a simple space for users to set goals, compete with friends, and save energy.
Competing with friends in a “Buzz Off” is a great incentive for users to reduce their bills. The winner earns the title “Queen Bee” while the loser must accept “Larva” status. Users can see trends in their water, electric, and gas usage over time. These usage graphs use dotted lines that bring to mind bee communication, which often occurs through movement and dance.
“We were inspired by a lunchtime conversation where we talked about how much our energy bills were each month,” team member Chris Kwan said. “People were really surprised at how much one of our co-workers was paying for electricity. He was surprised too, because he didn't realize that he was paying so much more compared to others with similar living arrangements. It made him think about how he was using energy, and he realized that he was leaving his super powerful gaming computer on all day while he was at work. Additionally, many of us use tracking and goal setting apps like Mint, FitBit, and MyFitnessPal, so we thought it would be useful to have something similar for energy usage.”
Greyson Griffin, Chris Kwan, Christina Kayastha, and Brian Chitester were the masterminds behind Energy Bee.
In addition to UtilityAPI, the programmers used ReactJS, MaterialUI, Firebase, and Webpack to build the app. While working they used GitHub and Slack to communicate. The developers said, “UtilityAPI’s authentication portal was very straightforward and easy to use with a nice quick design editor with various redirect and embedding options.”
Beyond creating a great new app, the Energy Bee team had a great time meeting people and learning more about the intersection of sustainability, energy efficiency, and technology at the Cleanweb Hackathon. “What was especially cool about the Cleanweb Hackathon were all the breakout sessions that they offered,” Greyson Griffin said. “These are great opportunities to learn about new problem spaces, try out different technologies, and talk to experts. During a hackathon you have a very limited time (usually less than 48 hours) to build something, so it’s important to focus, be realistic, and cut scope as you need. Don’t work non-stop though, the main point of a hackathon is to have fun. So make sure you take breaks, enjoy the free food, and meet new people.”
“Energy data is hard to come by, especially in one intelligible format,” UtilityAPI CEO Elena Lucas said. “We’ve built UtilityAPI so people can build energy solutions for consumers and companies. Hackathons are a great way to get more people working on energy solutions. We were so excited to see such a great web app come out this hackathon!”
What is the Energy Bee team going to do with the money they won at the hackathon? “We are going to use it for our utility bills and more Energy Bee development!”
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