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11/1/2011
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How Many Lightbulbs Does Uncle Sam Use?

White House releases energy data, mobile and Web apps, to promote energy efficiency in agencies and beyond.

14 Most Popular Government Mobile Apps
Slideshow: 14 Most Popular Government Mobile Apps
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The White House has released online new energy data, mobile and Web applications, and maps as part of a broader initiative to promote energy efficiency within the federal government and across the country.

People can now access these new features on Energy.data.gov, an open government site that offers datasets and other resources about energy consumption, conservation, and related environmental issues, according to a White House blog post by Nick Sinai, a senior adviser to U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra. The site also includes challenges to developers to create applications to promote energy efficiency.

New on the site is information about how much energy the federal government used and how much that cost between fiscal years 1975 and 2007, as well as 100 new datasets containing information on natural gas, coal, nuclear plants, and energy efficiency.

[The feds have big plans for IT. Read U.S. CIO VanRoekel Outlines What's Next For Fed Tech.]

The site also includes a new Apps tab that links to a collection of smartphone and Web applications that provide helpful information on energy-related issues. For example, an Alternate Fuel Locator mobile app from the Department of Energy provides on-the-go information about where to find a fueling station for an alternative-fuel vehicle.

Similarly, a new Maps tab links to a collection of graphical maps of statistical energy data from agencies like the Department of Energy, the Department of Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency. One map, for instance, shows the breakdown of energy consumption per state, and even allows people to see data on energy usage for their own towns and cities.

The feds' interest in improving energy usage within the government is in tandem with work it's doing to promote a more energy-conscious country in general.

Through an initiative called Green Button, launched by Chopra in September, the administration has asked power companies to make their customers' energy-usage information available electronically via a green button on their websites, so they can quickly make informed decisions about how to better use their power.

The idea was modeled after another federal effort called Blue Button that would allow people to download their personal health data and share it with healthcare providers and other trusted health partners online via the click of a button.

In his post, Sinai said that the three largest utilities in California will implement Green Button features by the end of the year.

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