We like our neighbors. A lot. They've been friendly and helpful from the moment we moved in. But we gotta admit: it gives us great pleasure to know that we're crushing them.
How do we know? National Grid told us.
The energy utility sent us a "Home Energy Report" this week that compares our energy usage to that of our neighbors. And we're out efficiency-ing our neighbors like it's our job. Out of 100 similar homes in our neighborhood, we're ranked #19. (We had been in the top 10 this spring -- then we turned on the air conditioner.)
National Grid figures we're using 45 percent less energy than similar homes near us, saving us about $875 per year. Score.
OK, so we're not really that fired up about it. But it was pleasantly surprising.
National Grid has been sending out these home energy reports to selected customer since May, says Patrick Stella, a spokesman for the utility. He says about 130,000 National Grid customers in upstate New York have been getting the reports as part of a pilot program here (the National Grid program started in Massachusetts).
To be enrolled in the program, Stella says customers have to fit a set of criteria that enables to the company to compare their energy usage against that of 100 similar customers (fuel type, size of house) within a 2-3 mile radius. Customers were automatically selected for the program -- and they can opt out if they don't want the reports. As of right now, Stella says customers can't self-enroll in the program. He says they'll examine how things have gone at the end of this year and plot their next steps after that.
Stella says National Grid has a couple of goals for the program. The first is to create a new avenue for promoting its energy conservation programs -- the energy reports include info about changes customers can make to save energy, and rebate programs that are available. The other goal is to foster some friendly energy conservation competition among people.
Robert Cialdini, a professor at Arizona State and a top social psychologist, has done research that indicates people will cut down on the amount of electricity they use if you show them how their usage compares to that of their neighbors. Apparently it's even more convincing than showing people how to save money (or the environment).
A utility in Sacramento was one of the first to put this idea to use a few years back -- including bar charts showing customers how piggy they were compared to neighbors on their monthly statements. And it appears to be reducing power consumption. Cialdini is involved with the company that helped produce those reports -- and it's the same company producing reports for National Grid.
We like getting the reports. And it'd be fun if National Grid could post efficiency rankings for cities/towns or neighborhoods. You know, for civic pride. And talking trash.
Earlier on AOA: The utility bills of others
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