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Meet Natalie Zandt of MeterLeader in Irvine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalie Zandt.

Natalie, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
MeterLeader is a manifestation of all the things I am interested in and care deeply about sustainability, behavioral science, and technology. I knew that I wanted to develop a solution to help combat the existential threat of climate change.

But rather than focus on top-down government policy, I decided to focus on how individuals could take bottom-up action collectively and measurably. I noticed that there were some tools that allowed individuals to take wishful pledges or that estimated carbon reductions based on unaccountable self-reported actions. But there were few tools that used REAL data to measure ACTUAL carbon emission reductions.

And so, I created MeterLeader. MeterLeader allows users to easily create and participate in energy-saving challenges that are integrated with real-time energy data. It’s like a Fitbit Challenge, but instead of steps we measure kilowatt-hours of electricity you reduce in your home and/or building, as well as the resulting carbon emission reductions. Energy consumption is responsible for about a third of global carbon emissions, but shockingly up to 40% of energy consumed is wasted due to inefficient equipment and wasteful behaviors. Luckily, MeterLeader integrates elements like competitions and games, real-time energy data feedback, and social interaction, which studies have shown can produce up to 27% energy savings. MeterLeader is currently only available to PG&E customers in Northern California, but we are working to soon integrate SoCal Edison energy data as well.

We did a soft launch of the MeterLeader website in November 2018, and since then I’ve spent a lot of time in the Bay Area trying to find product-market fit and gaining our first pilot customers. In March 2020, we just launched two new awesome features including the ability to “Create A Challenge” and the addition of “Energy Saving Activity Modules”. Our users can now easily create energy savings challenges themselves in minutes – no energy expertise needed. In addition, we’ve also launched our Earth Day Home Energy Challenge, which is slated to start on April 1, 2020. So if you are a PG&E customer, sign up now to participate in the Earth Day Home Energy Challenge. You’ll get the chance to win prizes, save money on utility bills, and feel good knowing you are helping to combat climate change.

Has it been a smooth road?
Starting MeterLeader has been difficult from day one, but the cliche really is true – what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. The most difficult struggle I faced in getting MeterLeader off the ground was finances. I didn’t have very much in savings to put toward building MeterLeader so I had to find people who believed in our mission strongly enough that they wanted to invest their time and expertise. At the same time, I had to be scrappy and figure out ways to get very low-cost legal, design, and marketing services.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with MeterLeader – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
MeterLeader is a new, inclusive way to promote saving energy and reducing carbon emissions. We are a free online platform that allows anyone to easily create and participate in customizable energy-saving challenges that are integrated with real-time energy data.

Creating an energy savings challenge with MeterLeader is easy, takes only a few minutes to set up and maintain, and requires no energy expertise. Participating in an energy savings challenge is just as easy. Challenge participants sync their PG&E energy data (and SoCal Edison data in the near future) with a push of a button, they join a challenge, over the course of the challenge period they save energy, and then the top energy savers get a chance to win prizes.

Challenge organizers are able to claim carbon emission reductions and gain positive PR, while challenge participants get the opportunity to save money and win prizes. It’s truly a win-win for people and the planet. Organizations, small and large alike (including companies, environmental organizations, property management groups, neighborhoods, community service groups, and schools), can benefit from using MeterLeader to engage their members in combating climate change.

We are proud that MeterLeader empowers people to collectively combat climate change. There is so much anxiety and despair around climate change, so we are proud to offer people an easy way to take meaningful action and get others involved.

What sets us apart from other companies is that we use real-time energy data – no wishful pledges or unaccountable estimates/points based on self-reported actions. MeterLeader is also very easy to use and accessible. A lot of energy-related products out there are very technical, but we pride ourselves on making the topic of energy easy to understand and fun to engage with.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
The proudest moment of my career was being considered to run an energy savings challenge for one of the biggest cities in the US. Even though we ended up not getting chosen as the vendor, the fact that we were being seriously considered, proved to me that there was demand for MeterLeader.

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