Friday, March 2, 2012

Interpreting the Numbers

If you are a resident of this local area and have Consumers Energy providing your natural gas, you probably received a letter outlining your home energy usage.  I received mine yesterday and sat here and scratched my head.  Then I went online to their website to try to get more information.

Overall, they are telling me that in the last two months I used 6% more natural gas than 'efficient similar homes' in my area, defined as the 20% most efficient homes.  (I wonder if they included empty homes with the gas on to prevent pipes from freezing?)  They do not point out directly that I used 16% less natural gas than 'similar homes', which are 100 'occupied' (how do they know?) nearby homes similar in size.  I made that calculation myself.

They have a little chart that shows I have used less gas the first two months of this year.  What a surprise considering it has been extremely mild in comparison to last year.

On the flip side of the report they tell me I spent $45 more than other energy efficient homes did last year.  They do not tell me how much less I paid than those 100 similar homes.  And do they think $45 is an enticement to turn my thermostat down everytime I leave my home, which is one of their online suggestions?

They continue with money saving tips.  One 'quick fix' is to open the shades on sunny days, especially on the south side of the house and save a 'whopping' $5.00 per year.  Of course, they tell you to turn down the thermostat at the same time.  But, if the sun is doing such a good job of heating the house, why would the furnace even come on???  (I only have one very small south facing window, in a bathroom no less, so no help there.)

Some of their online tips are perplexing when it comes to natural gas and seem to pertain more to their electrical customers.  Who unplugs their cable box everytime they stop using their TV or computer?  Besides, my phone is on my cable, but that would surely take care of all the unwanted political calls.

Unplug all appliances and lights when not in use?   Who is going to go crawling around on the floor to plug in a light in everytime you want to use it?  And to save what?  People who spend $5.00 for a cup of coffee are not going to unplug the TV when they walk out of the house to save a few pennies.

I loved the one about cutting 'one minute' off your shower time.  Do people actually time their showers?  What a hoot.

When I was growing up, my mother would yell at me for reading without enough light.  I do it to my own children even now when they are here.  I guess modern moms would do the opposite.  'Turn that light off.  Get a flashlight out to read by.  Did you unplug the TV after Sesame Street?'  Yikes.

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