Why is tracking energy consumption SO HARD!

I'm going to admit it: I haven't tracked my utility bills for almost 6 months.

Well, that's not totally true. I do glance at them for a few seconds when I get an email alert that my bank account will be automatically drafted the bill amount, but that's about it.

My massive electric utility company sends me an email with 3 sentences when it's time for them to charge me for the services they provide:

Your new paperless bill is now available for viewing. To view your bill, click here. The bill amount will be automatically drafted from your bank account on the date shown.

They then show the amount and the date the bill is due.

My natural gas company doesn't even show me the amount due.  I have to log in for that.  Bleh...I have more important things to do.

But why does it have to be so hard?  Even me, a blogger on home energy conservation is too busy to log in to another website or analyze another energy bill.  What percentage of Americans are actually going to take the time to do this detailed analysis?

We've written about home energy monitoring strategy, but why don't more people actually spend the time to really monitor their home energy consumption?  Some of the reasons could be why social networking wont friend energy conservation.  Is it because people are too busy, receive too much spam and junk mail, don't care (because in some places energy is so cheap).  For me it's partly all of the above.

I still care about energy conservation.  I always will.  But we reach a point where we get comfortable in our lives, and unless we are experiencing pain (with high energy costs), we won't make any effort to change.  But what if the utilities made it easier on us?  What if in their emails telling us they are going to take money from our bank accounts (which they deserve) they provided a YOY comparison of our energy consumption, or an energy conservation tip, or a comparison of our home vs. similar sized homes of our neighbors.   It's hard for people to track energy consumption, so can you utilities please make it easier?


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The good news is that is doesn't need to be this hard and we don't need to rely on our utilities! <a href="" rel="nofollow">Eragy</a> has developed a number of real-time web-based tools to help consumers better understand their energy consumption. We are one Blue Line's "application partners" that Terrye mentions in his post above. We feel that consumers will start to care more about their energy usage if they have easy-to-use tools that can be accessed from anywhere (i.e. web/mobile/social). Perhaps the most important concept for the average consumer is alerts -- getting information pushed via email and/or text messages that is specific to your energy usage, habits, utility rate plan, etc. Wouldn't it be nice to receive an email/text to let you know that you are on track to exceed your monthly budget - before you get your bill! We feel this is key for long-term engagement - most consumers are too busy to constantly check a dashboard or app. Though there are utilities doing some things right (see Austin Energy in Bob's post above), many are years away from offering consumers good online tools to better manage their energy consumption. And even fewer will provide access to real-time data -- key for anyone who wants to really change their behavior and usage habits! Mark Komanecky Eragy
My energy never looked so good... I use People Power and it made my energy interesting again. People Power makes it really easy to manage energy from my mobile phone and provides great recommendations to save even more. My utility bill is like my phone bill and like filling out tax forms. I don't get it and turns me off. People Power turned me on to take another look at my energy consumption and provided me with lots of great insight to my usage. Plus, I can share with and challenge my friends through social media to think about it. It does matter.
I agree - the People Power app (see link above) hooks up with your Blue Line PowerCost Monitor or TED, and you can see all of your energy use in real time. Plus, you can set a budget and see when you're getting close, play energy quizzes, compare your usage to others, get energy-saving's really changed the way I think about my energy use. Everyone should know more about where their energy is being spent, if they have any interest in saving.
In Ontario Canada, The Electrical Company have smart meters and we have a website that we can log into to see our usage. They provide Monthly, Daily and hourly breakdown. The data is delayed by about 24 hours. Sometimes it is a pain to wait that long to see the usage. When I am away from the house my hourly usage is 0.07 to 0.11 KW per Hour (Fridge, DSL modem, Telephone hub, Answering machine) . When I get home after work my usage goes up to 0.44 to 0.53KW per hour (computer, Network hard drive, speaker , Hub , 52 inch TV and some light) My TV stand has a Power Strip - 7 Individual Switches With each switch label with PS3,WII,X-BOX360, Antenna, DVD I turn on the Switch for the device I want to use at that time. When I go to bed I shut down my computer then flick the power button on the power strip (Speaker,Network Hard Drive, Computer, Hub all fully off) and I do the same for the TV power bar is shut off. It is easy to see from the graphs when you do a load of laundry, use the dryer or use the dishwasher as the usage will increase during that period of time. I find it very useful and it has helped me reduce my consumption. Currently helping a co-worker to reduce there usage.
Smart meters are definitely the way to go. I believe British Columbia (BC Hydro) is going to start implementing them on homes soon, if they haven't already done so. I know there are a lot of challenges with smart meters (price being the most notable one) but I really think they'll help protect our province for years in the future.
@Royal: You should explore the peaksaverPLUS program in Ontario. It is a great program offered by some LDCs where the customer receives a free PowerCost Monitor, which is a great real-time electricity monitor that has been shown to help consumers save up to 18 percent on their monthly electricity bills. Check out the program here: and our website at Blue Line Innovations Inc. creators of the PowerCost Monitor here : This program and product will undoubtedly help you reduce your usage and bills even more! Cheers, Kevin Connolly Blue Line Innovations Inc.


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