Electric Shaming – Part 2 – “I told you so”

15 Dec 2014

1368974_10201396380089655_297288408_nA year ago, I raised the question “has electricity shaming come to Detroit?”  This was after I started receiving the monthly “letter of shame” that DTE generates, comparing my family to our more and less efficient neighbors.  It appears I’m not alone in wondering about this.

Saturday’s Detroit Free Press asked the same question.  The answer appears to be about the same as mine was – most people wonder who are these “more efficient” neighbors and what are they doing that I am not?   Interestingly, the Free Press article says DTE and Consumers can document a decrease in electricity usage after these letters (and emails) start going out – albeit a relatively small decrease – 1%.  In the meantime. I’d appreciate better information on how to save energy rather than just the generic platitudes about switching lightbulbs (I’m working on it), vacuuming out my refrigerator (I do that)  and ditching the old refrigerator in my basement (not going to happen).

Leave a Comment to “Electric Shaming – Part 2 – “I told you so””

  1. Sharon Finch 16. Dec, 2014 at 3:53 pm #


    I read that article in the Free Press and was totally bemused. I cannot imagine caring what my neighbors do about their electricity. I do the best I can, and in fact find the graphs helpful to encourage me to find ways to reduce energy use. but the idea that this is somehow related to my identity or privacy is beyond me. It is all statistical, no one knows who is who, and I think, few care. but it may be a sign of our very narcissistic times that people imagine that they are judged on such a basis. Electronic shaming, indeed. (My hunch is that they are nt used to being called to think about their own actions, and the whole idea of their actions being less than laudatory cause them the proverbal guilty conscience that our parents in an earlier era strove to build into us. THese days, parents seems to only want to build in a sense of privilege and outrage about any perceived criticism of behavior. Anyway, do change your bulbs (LEDs are better now, cooler and no mercury, and I love them!) and don’t feel too bad about the old fridge. (My excuse to myself in such instances is that it would burden the environment more to discard it and replace it with a newer more efficient model than to maintain it.) Sort of an environmental “waste not, want not” approach.

  2. Arthur Siegal 16. Dec, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    Sharon – I suspect that when my last kid goes off to college, I will ditch the old fridge and then I may see some serious improvement!

  3. Eddie Biederman 16. Dec, 2014 at 6:08 pm #


    Shaming? Very interesting take on those DTE letters. I have been in electrical most of my life, a journeyman electrician at 18, and now, some years later, I specialize in LED lighting and I get those letters also, but shaming? I guess that’s the perspective when you get a lawyer to interpret science (tongue in cheek)

    Energy use is a science, DTE bills you roughly 13 cents a kilowatt hour, in other words, burn 10-100 watt bulbs for an hour, its going to set you back 13 cents. LED lighting gives you the same light at about 20% the energy cost. So with those same lamps to LED and you save about 10 cents an hour. You need to calculate the hours you burn the lights and the cost of the new lighting to analyze the savings potential. Usually a long payback in residential, but extremely cost effective in commercial applications. I have yet to totally switch to LED in my home (shoemaker goes without shoes)

    While you handle the legalize of green, feel free to contact me on the science of green lighting anytime.

    Thanks for the soapbox,

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