Home Energy Reports: helping Vermonters save

by Kristin Dearborn, Customer Support Specialist

Are you one of 100,000 Vermonters who received a Home Energy Report from Efficiency Vermont in 2014 and 2015? If so, you may have noticed that you haven’t received a report in a few months and perhaps you’re wondering why.

Since the November 2014 roll out of the Home Energy Reports, Efficiency Vermont has been carefully monitoring their impact on Vermont’s energy use and how people feel about receiving them. Our Customer Support Team has taken careful stock of feedback received from folks about the reports by email, phone, and a targeted survey. While the bulk of the feedback we received was positive, a number of people expressed some valid concerns and identified a few issues with the reports. We paused the reports this past spring to address this feedback and to rework some details.

Changes to come

Applied research shows us the practice of comparing people’s performance to one another drives conservation behavior, and we’ve seen this in the Home Energy Reports. Vermonters who have received the reports have already collectively saved over $500,000 in energy costs. Even so, Efficiency Vermont acknowledges we can improve this comparison experience. The reworked reports highlight the ability of Green Mountain Power customers to log in to the Efficiency Vermont website and provide data about their homes in order to receive more accurate information.

Efficiency Vermont has also reevaluated the language used in the reports to more clearly describe the information that is displayed. A few customers gave us feedback that the reports left them wondering what information Efficiency Vermont had access to. We have information about how many kilowatt hours each home uses over the course of the month. We acknowledge that everyone’s situation is different. Maybe you just installed a heat pump so you’re using more electricity than your neighbor, but you’re actually heating and cooling your home more efficiently. Maybe you have ten people in your home, and your neighbors only have two, so the comparison isn’t apples to apples.

We understand seeing your usage as compared to your “neighbors” can feel uncomfortable at first, but we also think that it is a helpful way to provide you with some context around your energy usage. With the reworked reports, we are helping all recipients, particularly people with higher energy use, focus on achievable goal setting.

Making a difference

We’ve spoken with several people who have used the Home Energy Reports to affect a dramatic change in their home’s electrical use. One customer noticed his consumption was far higher than it should have been. He called us, and through some trial and error, we determined his well pump was malfunctioning and running constantly. Another customer had been paying his high electric bill for years, not realizing how much more he used than his neighbors. He was able to make some changes to the fans in his heating/central air system, and dramatically lowered his electric bill.

Home Energy Reports will be resuming later this month. We know that the reports have already helped Vermonters. And with the recent improvements we’ve made based on your feedback, we’re hopeful they will lead to even greater savings. If you’re curious about what you see on your Home Energy Report, call us! We’re happy to talk through your usage, look at your energy consumption, and help you come up with solutions for using less and saving money. If you are not among the 100,000 randomly selected customers receiving the reports and you’re a Green Mountain Power customer, you can still log in to our website to see your usage data, update information about your home, and receive customized energy tips.

As always, if you receive the reports and you have feedback you’d like to share, you can do so by calling us at 888-921-5990 or sending us an email at info@efficiencyvermont.com.

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