Watt It Takes: Opower’s Dan Yates on the Origins of Behavioral Efficiency

Dan Yates and his co-founder Alex Laskey built Opower,
an efficiency company that saves more energy
every year
than the hoover dam can generate. It was based on
cutting-edge behavioral science — but it wasn’t always clear
how the science would play out.

“It wasn’t okay with us to just know that there
was going to be a result. It had to be a certain level, otherwise
it wasn’t economic. And in the first few months, the results came
in and they weren’t changing behavior. The floor fell out from
under me. I said ‘oh my god, we have no idea if this is going to

Opower was founded in 2007 by Dan and Alex, two
friends from Harvard. Dan knew software. Alex knew how to sell. And
both of them wanted to build a company for environmental good.

Opower was based on a simple premise: send paper
mailers to utility customers comparing their electricity use to
their neighbors. If people saw they were doing poorly, they’d
make changes. It worked.

Over time, Opower inked deals with the world’s
biggest power companies and started processing vast amounts of
smart meter data — making it arguably the biggest energy
efficiency success story in business. The company went public in
2014 and was sold to Oracle in 2016.

In this episode, Powerhouse CEO Emily Kirsch talks
with Dan about the science behind the idea, how Opower evolved and
expanded, and why the company was eventually sold to Oracle.

Listen to all our past episodes of Watt It Takes
This series is normally recorded in front of a live audience. But
we’re now recording the interviews remotely. See future events

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Source: FS – GreenTech Media
Watt It Takes: Opower’s Dan Yates on the Origins of
Behavioral Efficiency