The new home energy reports: How do you rank?

December 12, 2014
  |   1 Comment

“I got TWO smiley faces!”

“What?! I only got one!”

Have you had a conversation like this yet?  This is what I overheard in my office recently as two of my colleagues tried to decipher what their new Pepco Energy Reports meant.

Smiley Face

 

What are Home Energy Reports?

These reports are offered to you at no additional cost by your utility company (in this case, Pepco).  The basis for these reports is that while a lot of us are doing our part to save energy, we also assume we’re doing more than the household next door.  The Home Energy Reports helps us get a better idea of what a home like ours might consume and how we compare to others.

 

Sample energy report

A sample Home Energy Report

 

Based on your home features (from public records), location, and energy use, you could find one of three outcomes:

  1. You’re using more energy compared to your neighbors.  You may be prompted to find ways to cut back. True Story: A colleague in our office was disappointed when he saw his scorecard and realized that his second refrigerator and old hot water heater were the culprits behind his less than satisfactory score.
  2. You’re doing about average (indicated by one ). By taking some actions at home or swapping out an aging appliance, you can probably pull ahead of the pack.
  3. You’re using less energy than the average home like yours (indicated by TWO smiley faces)!  Don’t rest on your laurels though.  With the holiday season, be sure to continue with your smart energy actions.  True Story: Another colleague in our office scored two smiley faces and is enjoying bragging rights. Her challenge now is to keep up with energy saving actions.

 

Should I believe these reports?

The short answer is yes.  These reports are based off of a large set of utility data, public information about your home, and analysis to normalize across your geographic community.  Behind these comparisons there are real numbers.  For more about the comparison, check out Pepco’s Frequently Asked Questions.

The second refrigerator, courtesy of Georgia Power

That extra fridge in the garage could be impacting your score.

 

Some factors may slightly impact your score:

  • You had guests over for the holidays and had to keep the heat on higher than usual.
  • You have medical equipment that requires energy use.
  • You have a second refrigerator (that you probably don’t need and can unplug or recycle).
  • Your home uses different sources of energy compared to your neighborhood (e.g., you are the only home on your block/in your neighborhood without access to natural gas).

If your home has an outlying factor, that could cause some shifts in the report.  However, the impact of any given factor is likely to be minimal.  Even if you think you have an overriding factor, it’s still important to check and see where you might be using more energy than you need.

 

Winning the race…where do I begin?

If you’re interested in making improvements, start with the suggestions on the back of your score.  These tips are meant to provide cost-effective ways to reduce your energy costs, and they will often point to a utility incentive to help buy down the initial cost.  With this information in hand, here are some things to try:

  • For one month, turn off all lights and power strips to see how much standby power is contributing to your bills.
  • Compare your score sheet with your actual neighbor (go knock on their door and strike up a conversation!) and maybe explore the differences between your home’s energy use and systems.
  • Make it fun and do one thing at a time to see how it shifts your energy bills and comparisons.

 

Neighborhood, courtesy of Photo Dean, Flickr

Don’t be shy! Compare reports with neighbors!

 

Guest blog by Michelle Vigen, Senior Energy Planner, DEP



One comment on "The new home energy reports: How do you rank?"

  1. carl tretter says:

    The household comparisons using 2,798 square feet on my Home Energy Report from Pepco are skewed and thus results in unconvincing conclusions on energy use. This house is at least 3,100 square feet of conditioned space and should be compared with similar size homes.
    Pepco needs to do a better job of accurately gathering data before sending what appears to be misleading advertising to promote energy saving products and promotions.

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