In the spirit of keeping a positive, bright outlook on life and politics (ha), we’re going to ignore for the moment the Obama administration’s embrace of the Cushing-to-Texas branch of Keystone XL. Instead, let’s talk about another announcement the White House made today, this one about how they’re going to convince Americans to use less energy.

Back in January, the White House launched a program called Green Button. It’s an “industry-led” program in which utilities make energy-use data available in standard formats. This means a couple of things: 1) It’s easier for people to access information about their household’s energy consumption and 2) it’s easier for software developers to design applications that will help people understand energy use.

The big news the White House wants to share today is that the number of households that will have access to this sort of data will more than double, from 12 million to 27 million in total.

Basically, if you push the Green Button on your utility’s website, you can look at your own energy data — and you can also allow people who are way smarter about analyzing energy use to look at your data and tell you what to do with it. The White House is hoping access to these data and applications will end up helping people save money on their electricity bills, plan and finance rooftop solar systems, and commit to energy-efficiency retrofits on their homes.

It’s hard to get most people excited about energy use and efficiency (although perhaps the prospect of cracking down on kids’ parties could change that). But if you can’t make efficiency sexy, you can at least make it easy. The less painful it is to monitor energy use, the more likely people are to realize how much money and power they can save.

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