"Energy Efficiency is at the heart of energy affordability." Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation

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PG&E Home Energy Reports Stimulate Big Customer Savings

By Jonathan Marshall

Never underestimate the power of information. That might be the key lesson from the big energy savings achieved by PG&E customers who receive the utility’s individually tailored Home Energy Reports six times a year.

About 1 million of PG&E’s 4.6 million residential customers now get these concise, colorful, and easy-to-read mailings, which offer information on how their energy use compares with that of similar homes in the neighborhood, along with savings tips and news about PG&E’s energy efficiency programs and incentives. (Information on neighbors’ energy use is provided only in aggregate, so customer privacy is ensured.)

The program was motivated by studies showing that customers are more likely to engage in saving energy when it’s a matter of keeping up with the Jones’s next door. Knowing that your neighbors managed to cut back without discomfort is a great prod to taking energy efficiency seriously.

PG&E began a pilot test of Home Energy Reports in 2011, working with OPower, a company that specializes in applying behavioral research to energy efficiency. The program has grown with its proven success. That success is measured by the same method used in medical research. Participants are chosen randomly, so that independent evaluators can compare the energy usage of experimental and control groups to determine the true savings achieved each year by the program.

Home Energy Reports give PG&E customers insight into their energy usage and offers easy-to-follow tips for saving energy.

Home Energy Reports give PG&E customers insight into their energy usage and offers easy-to-follow tips for saving energy.

The latest evaluation for 2013 is now in. Electric savings from participating residential customers totaled 81.3 Gigawatt hours (GWh), enough to power about 12,800 typical homes for a year. Total estimated gas savings came to 2.77 million therms, nearly enough to serve 6,800 typical homes for a year.

These results show a marked increase over the average savings in 2012 of 49.9 GWh and 1.47 million therms. That reflects both increased program participation and the fact that customers receiving the reports for a longer period of time tend to save more energy.

Home Energy Reports now reach more customers than any other energy efficiency program at PG&E, and save more energy than any of the utility’s other residential efficiency programs. They are among the many new resources enabled by SmartMeter™ technology, which gives customers unprecedented insights into their energy usage patterns over time.

Customers who don’t receive Home Energy Reports can take advantage of the same insights it provides just by creating or logging onto their MyEnergy account at www.pge.com/myenergy. The “Usage Analysis” link lets you compare gas and electricity consumption at your home and similar homes in your area by month or by day.

Then, once you’re motivated to save, explore the Home Energy Checkup tool to create a personalized energy savings plan. And check out the Home Money Saver page to find money-saving incentive programs to promote energy efficiency.

Email Jonathan Marshall at jonathan.marshall@pge.com.

This story originally appeared on pgecurrents.com.