Sunday, November 06, 2011

Seattle City Light's usage comparison report irks some

Published: Nov 4, 2011


SEATTLE -- Some may say information is power. But some Seattle City Light customers don't like the utility's pilot program that compares their energy usage to their neighbors'. 

Seattle City Light spokesman Andrew Gibbs said the home electricity report was designed to inspire homeowners to think of new ways to conserve energy. 

"We've weatherized a lot of houses, helped people install a lot of efficient light bulbs. We needed to do something a little bit different," he said. 

The report lists how many kilowatt hours the customer is using, then compares the figure to that of the customer's neighbors. The report also ranks the customer in comparison with 99 others in the area. 

Some customers say the report is a waste of money, paper and resource. Others say it's just downright intrusive. But Gibb says it's just information, and the report includes tips on making the customer's home more efficient. 

"It's not trying to judge anyone," he said. "It's not trying to say you're a bad person (if) you're using more energy."

Consumer looking to identify the electricity vampires in their house can check out a kill-a-watt meter from the local library. The meter measures how much electricity each appliance uses. Consumers may then decide to switch to a more efficient model of appliance or change the settings on their computer. 

"And that's really the most powerful thing -- to give people information about actions they can take to make their home more efficient, save money," Gibb said, adding consumers can save $25 for every 300 kilowatt hours cut. 

Customers who do not want their energy use outlined in a home electricity report can choose to opt out. 

Puget Sound Energy also provides a home energy report to customers in East King County.

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