Energy – “keeping up with joneses”

13 Feb 2012

Coming soon to a utility bill near you?

Recently, a friend of mine told me about a program in Palo Alto, where the municipal utility provides them with a document comparing their home’s energy use to that of 100 similarly situated neighbors and then to the 20% most efficient neighbors.

The idea appears to be to use peer pressure to encourage further conservation. There are links to tips and ideas to save electricity, gas and water.

I’m not sure whether this is as effective as a year to year comparison of my own usage would be, and I doubt knowing what a hundred of my neighbors are doing would motivate me to be more efficient, but it is interesting. Would it motivate you?

Leave a Comment to “Energy – “keeping up with joneses””

  1. Brett 21. Feb, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    I think that this approach can be useful. In particular, I think that, so long as the statements clearly tie efficiency to monthly energy savings in dollars and cents, this system can have a large effect on people simply by showing them how much less their neighbor’s electric bill is than their own, while entirely skirting potentially divisive issues like an individual’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions or domestic energy security/sustainability. I will say that this approach probably has a point of diminishing returns built-in, in that, if it works, there won’t be much of a difference in the graphs after everybody in the neighborhood gets on board. Assuming it doesn’t cost the utility too much to add the information to the monthly statement, I like the idea. Of course, many people don’t even look at their utility bill, opting instead for automatic electronic payment, in which case, the whole thing falls apart a bit, but I’ll bet a little marketing would go a long way as far as getting people to take a look.

  2. Susan Tachna 04. Apr, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    Here in Palo Alto we also get year-year comparisons, in monthly increments. These comparisons, to our younger selves one year ago, and to our neighbors only seem to feed our competitive natures and serve as a rare conversation topic. At the end of the day, I need what I need when it comes to energy.

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