Sunday, May 1, 2011


Short version: Welcome. I started this blog to chronicle my work for MIT starting an electricity conservation competition based on social network-based games. I’ll also post other relevant information as appropriate. Enjoy!

Full version:

Hi there! Welcome to The Energy Nerd blog. I’m Tim Grejtak, a self-proclaimed energy nerd and the author of this blog. I started this blog rather tangentially:

I’m a recent graduate of MIT and during my time there, I stared a project with another student called the Dorm Electricity Competition. It succeeded in the sense that it actually saved MIT enough electricity to power 100 US homes for a year.[1] It failed in the sense that it didn’t rigorously test the hypotheses behind the project: that behavior change is one of the fastest, most cost-effective routes to lower carbon emissions, and that game-based incentives and competition are the surest way to achieve sustainable behavior change.

I was enlisted by MIT this year to help them institute a formal behavior change policy as part of their NSTAR-MIT Efficiency Forward Campaign (details on the NSTAR-MIT Efficiency Forward Campaign here). My newly-started job as a development associate at the local energy start-up Sun Catalytix (shameless plug here) precluded me from being paid by two different companies for two different jobs. I also knew the project was important, but I wasn’t an MIT student any longer. So the incentives expert in me reasoned that if bribery and guilt didn’t work, peer pressure surely should!

Hence this blog. Announcing to the world my intentions to set up a behavior change project should compel me to actually set up a behavior change project. Right? So, dear reader, my integrity is on the line; either I must follow through with my intentions publically on the internets, or face ignobility and shame FOREVER!!!

In between updates and sure-to-be-brilliant discoveries (such as “people like to win” or “working with bureaucracy is annoying”), I’ll be posting relevant news articles, references to interesting papers, and maybe a few personal interest stories about the minutia of my oh-so-interesting life (though I promise to keep those to a minimum). By and large, new posts should come every weekend.

So welcome and thanks for reading. Hopefully you haven’t grown tired of my slightly-sarcastic writing style (and occasional interjections) and I’ll see you again.

[1] 700 MWh total electricity saved. An average US home consumes 30 kWh electricity per day (source: EIA[2]
[2] BTW, one of my tenets is, “You’re only as good as your references,” so expect lots of footnotes (and yes, I did just use nested footnotes, but don't expect much more of those)

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