The Green Button Initiative
What Is Green Button?
The Green Button initiative aims to help utility customers across the United States gain easier access to their energy usage data. Green Button provides simple, online access to monthly billing data and interval data, based on what each utility makes available. As of today, more than 50 utilities have joined Green Button, enabling easy access to energy data for over 60 million homes and businesses.
Why Was It Created?
Which came first, the Green Button or the Blue Button? This isn’t a trick question: it was Blue Button. Blue Button allows consumers to gain easy access to their healthcare records. With the simple click of a blue button, patients can download their health data for their own use or to share with their healthcare providers. This revolutionary initiative let people know that they were missing out on accessing and controlling a critical part of their personal information: their health records.
Shortly after Blue Button was released, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra issued a call-to-action for a “Green Button” from the smart grid ecosystem. He wrote that with easy access to usage information, “consumers would be enabled to make more informed decisions about their energy use, and, when coupled with opportunities to take action, empowered to actively manage their energy use.”
With this information at their fingertips, consumers would be empowered to actively manage their energy use.
Before Green Button, access to energy usage data was far from easy. There are thousands of utility providers in the United States alone, and each one delivers billing information at different times of the month and in different formats. Green Button could revolutionize the way consumers and businesses view their energy data, and luckily, the industry responded to the call.
Green Button for Solar
So, how does Green Button work in action? One use case is in the solar industry. Energy usage information is crucial in the solar energy purchasing process. In order to accurately size a new system, installers need to know how much energy a consumer uses each month – and how that usage varies across seasons. And, once the system has been installed, billing data can show how much they’re saving on their utility bills.
In addition to monthly billing data, Green Button also offers interval data, sharing information on usage down to 15-minute intervals. Given that more and more solar systems are installed along with storage, energy data needs to be more granular so that systems can monitor hourly usage.
Green Button for Energy Management
Green Button is also useful for general energy management. As Chopra said, data on energy usage empowers people to better manage and reduce their energy consumption. With an easy-to-read, downloadable file of data, businesses can use both monthly invoice data and interval meter data to dig deep into where they’re consuming the most – and where it’s most cost-effective to cut down.
When businesses want to get granular with energy analyses, they often need to rely on interval data. Yet submeter installation at every location can be cost-prohibitive, and utilities don’t make data from utility-installed submeters available for free – except for those who’ve signed on to Green Button. Customers of those utilities can log in to their utility websites and download that interval data with the simple click of a button.
Other Sources of Energy Data
While Green Button has been promising, it’s not the only source of energy data. Green Button’s main benefit is that it’s free, but it only covers 50 utilities. Both individual and commercial customers of utilities outside of those 50 will need to tap into other sources.
The Urjanet Utility Data Platform provides an alternative. Urjanet connects directly to more than 5,000 utilities worldwide, aggregating and streamlining access to both monthly invoice data and utility interval data. With Urjanet, energy managers and solar installers alike can gain easy access to energy data with the simple click of a button.
In an age where having data on demand is a necessity, not an added amenity, having automated, consolidated data can be a crucial time-saving asset. To learn more about how Urjanet’s platform can help you manage and analyze energy use, talk to a data expert today.
You might also be interested in:
- Beyond the Bill: Refining Energy Management with Interval Data
- How to Access Utility Interval Data
- 3 Ways to Enhance the Accuracy of Solar Project Analyses
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About Alice Lee
Alice Lee is a Marketing Intern at Urjanet, and an undergraduate student studying marketing and international business at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.