Last year we invested heavily to conserve energy at home and on the road. We bought a Prius and replaced an aging furnace with a hybrid energy system (heat pump plus high-efficiency gas furnace).
Today we got a report card from Puget Sound Energy, our utility company: “we’re doing great” based on a 12-month analysis that was personalized to our home:
Compared to 100 neighbors with similar homes based on square footage and use of gas and electricity, we consume much less energy on an annualized basis:
- 36% less energy in total
- 54% less natural gas
- 18% less electricity
That’s the good news. The bad news is it will take more than a decade to get the financial payback, based on annual savings of $984. (We’d hoped for better savings than that.)
In the meantime we feel good: we did the right thing, even if it was a big hit to our pocketbook last year.
We received this personalized report because our city has partnered with 6 other cities and the power company to pursue a number of conservation initiatives — the C7 New Energy Partnership — with funding from the Department of Energy. (A few weeks ago they announced plans to begin offering plug-in charging stations for electric vehicles.)
It’s great that the local Eastside municipalities are promoting programs to encourage conservation. Anyone who has looked seriously into this knows that effective conservation will have a more immediate positive impact on climate change than shifting to renewable energy sources.
A Good First Step, But Not Enough
From what I’ve seen so far, the personalized reports offer very broad-brush tips on steps you can take to conserve even more energy (most of which we’ve already done).
If we want, we can go online to check on our home’s energy use for the past week, month (or months), or past year.
But these reports provide lagging indicators, based on information that’s days old: there’s no real-time monitoring that might guide us to make changes on a daily or hourly basis, or time-shift our use of specific appliances. Given this, I wonder how much behavior change this program will actually influence?