What is the Home Energy Report

By Kelly Lady

Austin Utilities Marketing/Energy Services Manager

I get a few calls and letters each year from customers commenting on our Home Energy Report program.

The Home Energy Report program shows you how much energy you use month to month in comparison to similar homes via a report mailed every two months. Most customers give us positive testimonials about how much the report helps them think about their energy usage. Some are not as positive and question the cost and purpose of the program.

For that reason I thought I would share some insights on some of the feedback. Whether you appreciate the program or not I hope after reading this you are at least a little less objectionable to receiving them.

“Quit wasting money on this stuff”

The reason we offer this program is to help us cost effectively meet Minnesota statute 216B.241 requiring utilities to offer energy conservation programs that result in an energy saving goal equivalent to 1.5 percent of gross annual retail energy sales for both natural gas and electric. Research has shown that behavioral programs like this result in average energy savings of roughly 2 percent.

We measure a program’s cost effectiveness by dividing the program cost by the number of kWh savings we get from the program. Our LED Lighting rebate program costs us $0.125 per kWh saved, our refrigerator rebate program $0.114 per kWh saved and central air conditioner rebates come in at a whopping $0.94 per kWh saved. Even though there are costs involved with printing and mailing the reports, the cost per kWh saved from the Home Energy Report averages just $0.08 kWh. Making the Home Energy Report program one of our most cost effective programs. In simple language, the Home Energy Report program is a good deal for us.

“It’s still a waste of paper and postage”

You can opt to receive your reports electronically when you create an online account using information provided on your report.

“My neighbors’ homes are all different than mine, you can’t compare”

The neighbors you’re compared to on your Home Energy Report are not necessarily your actual geographic neighbors. The report compares your energy use with around 100 homes in your area with similar characteristics as yours, including home size, heating type, and whether you are in a single-family or multi-family home. Your “efficient neighbors” are the 20 most efficient of the 100 homes in your neighbor comparison.

“I think I’m already efficient — why do reports tell me I’m so much less efficient than my neighbors?”

We build these neighbor comparisons based on what we know about your home. It could be that we don’t have accurate settings about your dwelling type or square footage of living space for your home. You can make adjustments to your home characteristics when you create an online account using the information found on your home energy report.

“I don’t care, I just don’t want it anymore!”

The Home Energy Report program has been a successful program at AU. Customers who receive the reports and utilize the information save an average of 2.89% on their energy bills. Many customers will never be able to get in the Great or even Good category. Some run daycares from home, others have health related equipment or health issues that require more conditioning. We need all of our customers on the program to make it successful for everyone. But if you are still not convinced, just give our office a call and ask to be removed from the program.

For more on Austin Utilities visit their website at www.austinutilities.com.

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