Frequently Asked Questions
We love hearing from our community! Here are some of the top questions we get and their answers. Still have a question? Reach out to us at email@example.com.
- How does MeterLeader access my utility account meter data?
MeterLeader accesses your utility data via GreenButton. The GreenButton initiative is an industry-led effort in response to a 2012 White House call-to-action to provide utility customers with easy and secure access to their energy usage information. Learn more by going to our How It Works page.
- Why does MeterLeader want access to my meter data?
MeterLeader believes you can't reduce what you don't measure. Scientific studies show that our values don't necessarily line up with our actions, no matter how good our intentions are. This is why, unlike other applications that rely on self reported data or pledges, MeterLeader uses real meter data to measure your progress toward reducing your energy usage. After all, the data does not lie.
- How does MeterLeader help users save energy?
MeterLeader helps you save energy in a number of different ways. MeterLeader Challenges motivate you to save energy because you are able to see your energy saving efforts as part of a group effort. Saving energy together with peers is motivating and empowering because you get to see the larger collective impact you are making. MeterLeader also gives you the information necessary to take action and save energy. You can easily view your daily energy, and browse through our collection of energy saving actions that include links to additional resources.
- Can other people see my energy usage data?
No, no one can see your exact electric usage data except yourself. If you are participating in a public facing Challenge, the only thing other people can see is the percent change in your energy usage during the Challenge period as compared to your previous year's usage during the same time period. This percent change does not reveal how much energy you actually used.
In addition, your actual reduction in kWh usage is integrated into the collective aggregate group's total kilowatt-hour (kWh) energy savings once a minimum of at least 5 people are participating in the Challenge. This prevents anyone from seeing or being able to calculate any individual's actual kWh usage.
- Do I need to be a PG&E electric customer to participate in a Challenge?
Yes, at this time MeterLeader is in Beta version and it only supports Challenge participation for active Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) electric customers that do not have solar, and who have been living at their residence for over a year. That being said we hope to quickly expand to support other Utility customers. If you would like for MeterLeader to prioritize connection to your local Utility, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How do I connect my PG&E account to my MeterLeader account?
PG&E's implementation of GreenButton is called PG&E's Share My Data protocol. In order to connect your PG&E account to your MeterLeader account you have to follow the two steps PG&E Share My Data has put in place. We highly recommend doing this step from a computer rather than mobile phone due to slow mobile response time.
Once you press the "Connect to PG&E Account" button you will be taken directly to the PG&E website where you will be first asked to login with your PG&E username and password. If you do not have an online PG&E username and password, you will be asked to create one, or request to reset your username or password if needed.
Once you have logged in to PG&E you will reach a page (see screenshot below) that will ask you to approve sharing your data with MeterLeader by pressing the Submit button at the bottom right. You will not need to fill out any information here, it will already be populated with your information, and you will only need to select an account if you have multiple homes.
As indicated on the Share My Data page, MeterLeader only collects Basic Information (your name and service address), and Usage Information (electric interval usage data). Once you connect your account, we access your historical usage data so that we can display usage graphs for you, and receive daily updates on your electricity usage. If you desire, you can restrict the timeframe in which we receive your data, although it is easiest to allow indefinite access. You can always revoke our access at any time.
- Do I have to tell you my utility account name and password?
No. You should only provide that information to the website of the utility company, and nobody else! The GreenButton protocol is similar to using Facebook login on a website that isn't Facebook. You log in to your utility company via their authentication mechanism, you log in to MeterLeader by our login system, and then you authorize us to communicate with the utility. We never see your utility account username or password.
- How do I know what my primary heating and cooling type is?
You can learn about the different types of heating equipment here and cooling equipment here. Based on these descriptions you should be able to identify what type of equipment you have.
If you are still having trouble determining what type of heating system and fuel type you use, google the model number and brand name of your heating and cooling equipment.
- How do I know what my home's square footage is?
- Can more than one person from my household participate in a Challenge?
No. At this time, MeterLeader can support only one user per utility account, so that means that only the primary PG&E account holder is able to sign up to participate in a Challenge. However, we encourage the the primary account holder who signs up with MeterLeader to involve everyone in their household by regularly showing them the Challenge page, forwarding them Challenge activity emails, and encouraging them to implement energy saving actions.
Participating in a Challenge
- How many people can participate in a Challenge?
During our Beta, we are limiting our Challenges to 200 participants. Unfortunately, if there are already 200 participants, you will have to wait for a new challenge to join. We are working hard to soon allow for a larger number of Challenges and participants.
- Can I join Challenges even after they have already started?
Yes, you can join a Challenge at any point during the Challenge duration period. However, it is ideal for a participant to join ahead of the start date so that they have time to plan for the energy saving actions they intend on implementing during the Challenge duration period.
- What is the difference between the individual goal and the collective goal?
The individual goal is the energy savings goal set for every participant to aim to achieve. The collective goal is the energy savings goal set for the group to achieve together. Some Challenges may offer rewards if collective goals are met.
- How can I get my friends, family, coworkers to participate in a Challenge?
The best way to get friends, family, and co-workers to participate in a MeterLeader Challenge is by sharing it through social media, email, and word of mouth. A MeterLeader Challenge is a great way to start a conversation around saving energy with your community. The more people who are participating in a Challenge the bigger collective impact we can make.
- How is my energy savings calculated and displayed in the Challenge?
MeterLeader calculates energy savings as the percent change in your electricity usage during the challenge period as compared to your energy usage in the previous year during the same time period. On the left of the Challenge page this percent change is displayed next to your name. If for whatever reason you use more energy during the Challenge period as compared to your usage in the previous year, your percent change will be displayed as 0%.
On the right of the Challenge page, are aggregate group statistics including Energy Savings (kWh), Average Savings Rate (%), and CO2 Reductions (lb). Energy Savings (kWh) are the aggregation of all participants' kWh energy reductions. KWh energy reductions are calculated based on the difference between participant's kWh electricity usage during the Challenge period as compared to the same time period of the previous year. These Energy Savings are updated daily and only show up once more than 5 people are participating in the Challenge.
The Average Savings Rate is the average percent savings rate of all participants, excluding those who are using more energy during the Challenge period.
At this time Energy Savings (kWh) and Average Savings Rate (%) are not weather normalized. We hope to incorporate weather normalization in the near future.
CO2 reductions are the pounds of CO2 avoided due to the amount of energy saved during the Challenge period. We estimate CO2 reductions by multiplying the aggregate kWh energy savings by the latest PG&E emissions factor of 0.21 lb/kWh. See our How it Works page for more details.
- What happens if I increase my energy usage during the Challenge period?
Because Challenges are focused on energy savings we do not display your usage if you have in fact used more energy during the Challenge period. In such cases, we assign you 0% energy savings, as opposed to showing a negative percent values.
- What happens at the end of the challenge?
Once a challenge has ended you will be notified by email. However final Challenge results will not be announced until several weeks after the Challenge has ended. This is because we need additional time for any straggling bits of data to be received.
If a Challenge offers a reward for individual and collective goals, you will be notified by email if the reward has been achieved.
- What is a kWh?
kWh stands for kilowatt-hour. It is a measure of how much energy you're using and also the metric by which utility companies charge us. A kWh is equivalent to one kilowatt (1 kW) of power expended for one hour (1 h) of time.
- How do I reduce my energy use?
MeterLeader provides you with many energy savings actions you can take to reduce your energy consumption. Take the time to review some or all of the energy saving actions, as well as the links to additional resources. Then choose the actions that are most appropriate for your household. As you implement these energy saving actions, your energy usage will decrease.
- What if I am already as energy efficient as I can be?
While the vast majority of people can at least adopt a few new ways to save energy, there are a small minority of people who may already be as energy efficient as they possibly can be. For these people, we still encourage you to participate in Challenges. But you can make an even bigger indirect impact by inviting friends, family, and co-workers to join a Challenge and save energy. You can also take the time to help your friends and family save energy by showing them the actions that you implemented to become energy efficient.
- Why is my 2020 energy use so much higher or lower than my 2019 baseline energy use?
Your energy use may fluctuate for a variety of different reasons, some of which is in your control and some of which you may have less control over. For example, energy use can drastically change due to using more or less heating or air conditioning, changes in how people use energy consuming devices, change in the number of people living in the house, purchase of new or more energy using devices, etc. The best way to know for certain what might be causing such significant swings in usage is to schedule a Home Energy Audit with an energy professional.
- Which energy saving actions should I implement and how?
MeterLeader provides a large collection of energy saving actions that all include a list of more detailed resources for further reading. After reading through the actions, you should have a sense of which ones are most appropriate and applicable to your household and budget.
In general, we recommend that you first start implementing the no cost and low cost energy saving actions that typically are applicable to anyone. Then we recommend that you read carefully though the energy saving actions associated with greater investment, and visit the provided website links. For any large investment, we recommend you consult a licensed professional.
- How do I change my notification settings?
MeterLeader sends two types of notifications - its bi-weekly email newsletter and email notifications associated with the Challenges you are participating in. If you want to change which notifications you receive go to your Account Settings and go to the Account page. There you can indicate which notifications you would like to receive.
- Can I connect more than one utility account?
No. Even if you have more than one utility account in your name or own multiple houses, at this time our Beta version can only support one utility account per user. If you have multiple people living in your household, only the primary account holder authorized on the Utility account will be able to participate in Challenges.
- What does the Connection Status of my Utility Account mean?
In the Utility Accounts section of the Account Settings, you will see the following categories listed for the electric utility account connected to your MeterLeader account: Type, Company, Residence, Connection Status, and Data Last Received. Type will always be Electric, since MeterLeader Challenges use real-time electric utility data. Company will be your utility company, which for now can only be PG&E. Residence is the home or building that is connected with that particular electric utility account, and is the home or building that you provided information for during the Utility Registration process.
Connection Status shows whether or not your electric account is connected to MeterLeader. If an error message is displayed you will need to try reconnecting your electric utility account. Data Last Received shows the date that we last received your electric usage data. If this date is not within the last two days, there may be an error in the GreenButton connection.
- How can I be an active part of the MeterLeader Community?
MeterLeader relies on its Community of users to achieve energy savings and to help us continue to grow and improve our product offerings. If you want to be an active part of the MeterLeader community participate in Challenges, invite your friends, family, and coworkers to join Challenges on social media, follow MeterLeader on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and tell us how you would like to see MeterLeader improve. We love hearing your ideas and feedback, and we welcome any ways in which you would like to contribute to our mission.
- How can I help expand MeterLeader's reach?
If your Utility is not currently supported by MeterLeader tell us which Utility you have in Part 2 of the Utility Registration process. We will do our best to connect to your Utility in the near future. The more users that tell us they want a certain Utility to be added, the more we will prioritize adding that particular Utility.
Help us grow our collective energy saving impacts by inviting friends, family, and co-workers to participate in MeterLeader Challenges.