The Department of Energy announced Thursday a $100,000 prize for software developers to come up with mobile applications to tell consumers how much energy they are using.
But there’s already an app for that.
A quick scan of the iTunes and Android markets shows nearly two dozen existing applications that accomplish the same purpose — helping users keep track of their energy consumption at home.
The uMeter app, for example, allows consumers with Wi-Fi-enabled home energy meters to “manage and optimize their energy consumptions, in order to reduce their expenses and carbon footprint,” according to the description. Similarly, the Home Master app gives iPhone and iPad users the ability to control their lights and curtains from a mobile device.
“You can define lighting scenarios and get real time information on energy consumption and energy savings,” the developers at Think Sample S.p.a. wrote at the iTunes App Store.
Facebook, the social media giant, released a similar app Thursday in partnership with the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council and software company Opower.
The apps Home Energy, Power Simulator, Our Green Home, pConsumpt, Electricity Cost Calculator, Watt, MeterClient, Saia S-Energy Manager and MEED also claim to provide similar services, and all were created by private developers, without the incentive of taxpayer money. (RELATED: Facebook social energy app now operational)
“The Apps for Energy competition supports the president’s goals of helping consumers lower their energy costs and increasing public access to data by challenging our nation’s talented software developers to create apps that provide energy usage data in the most comprehensive and accessible formats,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement touting the competition.
“Improving consumers’ access to data about how they use energy in their homes will help them save money on their energy bills and reduce energy consumption,” he said.
The apps would use information already provided by a group of energy and utility companies on their websites and repackage it for mobile devices.
The winning team will be awarded $30,000. Second place winners receive $15,000, and third place prize is $7,500. The Energy Department will also award applications that are built only by students. The winners will be determined by a panel of federal-government and public sector judges.