The quest began in 2009 with the best of intentions: Provide home and small business owners with a free, easy-to-use online application to track and manage their energy use. Making money on the application was not a priority. Instead, it was largely a philanthropic pursuit intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save its users some money. It was a noble quest. But alas, what had begun with great fanfare in 2009 was over less than two years later.
Such was the brief history of Google’s PowerMeter application, a Google venture that just didn’t pan out.
It turns out that many similar applications hit the market around the same time. Consumers interested in tracking energy use/cost via computer for their home or place of business – a relatively small number – were either confused by the myriad of emerging applications or so divided in their loyalties that no single product established a large, loyal customer base. Most consumers, however, were completely unaware of the developing cloud-based home energy management industry, while others simply had no interest in changing their behavior to save a few bucks on their utility bills.
EnergyCAP, Inc. had its own free energy management application targeted at homeowners and small business owners. We also launched our quest – GreenQuest, that is – in 2009, but our business model was different than Google’s.
EnergyCAP’s GreenQuest® was based on a sponsorship model. We envisioned local governments, energy service companies, and other organizations paying an annual fee for a customized GreenQuest website, which they would then promote as a free service to their residents or customers. The sponsor could customize GreenQuest’s home page content and other sections to provide important links, deliver news, promote services, and even earn advertising revenue. For example, the City of Virginia Beach, VA created a GreenQuest web page with plans to promote energy conservation while linking to related city and utility vendor resources:
At its peak of popularity, hundreds of customized GreenQuest websites were being promoted by school districts and local governments across the U.S. And early on, energy-conscious citizens jumped on board to take advantage of GreenQuest’s informative and easy-to-use features, such as the Energy Usage Report Card, the Carbon Footprint Calculator, and the 14-day Degree Day Forecast based on data updated daily by AccuWeather.com. The Energy Usage Report Card provided a quick comparison of current energy usage to the previous three-, six-, or 12-month period. GreenQuest even provided an ENERGY STAR score for commercial buildings. A lot of cool stuff was presented in an a very intuitive package, and it was free!
Unfortunately, as time has passed, the use of GreenQuest has also slumped. And it is with a level of sadness that we mark the end of this particular quest. GreenQuest, our free online application that outlasted Google’s offering by more than five years, will reach its sunset tomorrow, December 15, 2016.
It’s true that GreenQuest never generated the millions of dollars of annual sponsorship revenue that we envisioned way back in 2009, but we’re proud of what we did accomplish. We know that we played a role in introducing the concept of “personal energy management” to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of homeowners and small business owners across the country, and we hope that GreenQuest’s message of energy conservation and environmental awareness will be long-lasting.
If your organization sponsored a GreenQuest website or if you were an active GreenQuest user for some period of time, we thank you. We greatly appreciate your support. Oh, and Google, watch out. We outlasted you in head-to-head competition, and the end of every quest is an opportunity for another.