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"Where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking,..." - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
"Where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking,..."
and all of the houses are below average.

Last month, we got two mailings from our electric utility. It's quite possibly also your electric utility: National Grid, which services large swaths of New York, New England, and even Merrie Olde Englande, where it originated out of Thatcheresque privitisation of the national electric generation assets.  In 2002, they acquired Niagara Mohawk, a long-standing local generator and supplier in this region.  Our gas comes from a different company (and, to a lesser extent, from the dog;).

Anyway. One mailing was our bill; the other was what can only be described as a shame letter.  It announced that our little family of Mostly Two amounted to an Energy Hog in the 'hood; charts and graphs showed our wretched excesses, and most of the back page gave us helpful tips on how to cut down.

I eventually pitched it, but after mentioning it to Eleanor, who was the primary cause of the excess. Or rather, her car was: Iggy's all-electric, and while he may well have been causing a spike in our electric usage relative to those around us, our petrol consumption has been way down for well over two years, hers by 100 percent with the Smart car and mine probably by at least a third now that I have a hybrid.

Then, by chance, Eleanor met a National Grid worker, and the truth of the matter came out:

The facts and figures, charts and graphs, are utter bullshit. EVERYONE's letter told the recipients they were using more energy than their neighbors.  Apparently, the strategy came out of focus groups; saying things like "you use too much energy" or "you use more energy than the average customer/owners of houses of your size/other general comparison" didn't cause any changes in behavior; but tying it to "your neighbors" somehow put a face, and a sad one at that, on the victims of our hogginess.  We wouldn't want Betty, or Janet, or God forbid ::throws a dollar in the swear jar:: the asshole in the house next to the bedroom to find out we're lighting too many lights now!

Now I wished I'd saved the stupid thing- but no problem: today, we got another one.

Hey. At least that hog of a car cut down a little bit.

Our houseguests from the weekend are from the Boston area, and they, too, got something with similar shaming: they wondered how they could've been above the mean for such things given their relatively small space and their relatively small ability to do anything to cut down any more than they already have because, money.

I'm tempted to send this letter to the newspaper, the Public Service Commission, somebody to shame them back- but (a) I can't really figure out what law they may have broken, and (b) I might come across as some kind of climate-change-denying Neanderthal who's against energy conservation, Mom, and apple pie never reheated in a microwave oven.
6 comments or Leave a comment
siercia From: siercia Date: November 5th, 2015 02:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Interesting, but I wonder how accurate your source is - we got electric ones that told us that we were using more then our neighbors (which seemed likely, considering our two fridges, lots of computers, etc). But we got ones for gas as well (in Boston, National Grid does gas too) that always said we were way below average usage, every month.
captainsblog From: captainsblog Date: November 5th, 2015 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
My inner conspiracy theorist wonders if those are some sort of control group mailing to keep the game going. The more I look at that letter, the more it reeks of generalities. It does match our actual KWH usage or September per the bill, but I'll be curious to see what they send next time after our October usage (first month with no AC) went way down.
stress_kitten From: stress_kitten Date: November 5th, 2015 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)
OH! That would piss me RIGHT off. I HATE it when companies are duplicitous like that... even for a good cause. It leads to my never trusting anything I receive from anyone.

Fuck their focus groups... it's called ethics and truth in reporting/communication with clients.
bill_sheehan From: bill_sheehan Date: November 5th, 2015 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, I can install an energy-saving shower head. Great if I want the experience of being pee'd on by mice.

I can unplug every electronic device in the house. Yeah, that'll be convenient. Maybe I should just pull the big red switch in the basement.

weebleswobble From: weebleswobble Date: November 5th, 2015 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
a letter like that would really piss me off!
angledge From: angledge Date: November 10th, 2015 12:11 am (UTC) (Link)
While I appreciate that they're trying to encourage conservation, this is a bad method to use. It encourages cynicism.
6 comments or Leave a comment