Keeping up with the Jones’ utility bill

According to this article, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District is sending out electricity bills that include a comparison of the customer’s electricity use with that of 100 neighbors who use the same fuels and live in similarly-sized houses. This is a great idea but I don’t think it goes far enough.

I often receive calls from people who want to know how they can reduce their utility bills. Typically, the caller will have just received the first utility bill after moving into a new home, and is shocked at the cost.

The first question I ask is “How big is your house?”. And I am amazed at how big some of these houses are. Five thousand square feet is nothing. There are some really enormous homes out there, though I imagine the recent implosion of the housing bubble has left more than a few of them vacant.

I think it would be most informative to see household energy use compared not to the energy use of similarly-sized houses, but to the energy use of similarly-sized families. People need to know that if they want to live like Jed Clampett, they’re going to have a huge energy footprint too.

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