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SALT LAKE CITY — A tale of two homes shows the value of a home energy report. Two colleagues at Rocky Mountain Power live in the same neighborhood, and have the same floor plans, but their power bills are very different.
Rocky Mountain Power made it easier for them: it's sending out a home energy report to help folks better understand their energy usage and demands and — and how you stack up against the folks next door.
"I was 21 percent more efficient than my most energy efficient neighbors," said Rocky Mountain Power spokesperson Margaret Oler. "So that made me feel good."
Oler knows that now, because of her home energy report. Her colleague and neighbor, Maria O'Mara, another spokesperson for Rocky Mountain Power, wasn't as thrilled with her report.
"My first thought was, I am embarrassed," O'Mara said. Her family uses 13 percent more energy than her average neighbor.
"I knew there was work to do, I had no idea there was that much work to do," she said.
It's not about shaming anyone about their energy use — it's about giving customers more information about their energy choices.
Ninety-five thousand customers are getting the reports. This pilot program runs three years, and they'll evaluate how it worked.
There are good explanations for differences in energy usage, of course. Oler keeps her programmable thermostat at 80 degrees when she's not home, and 78 degrees when she is. She closes the blinds to keep the hot sun out. She also lives alone.
"I'm not doing near the loads of laundry that my neighbor's doing," she said.
Down the street, O'Mara's family of four keeps the house cooler. They also have two extra refrigerators, and an apartment downstairs. But they are replacing old light bulbs with more energy-efficient ones.
The report compares your electricity usage with efficient neighbors, and all neighbors. It also gives you a 12-month comparison with your neighbors. It also suggests how you can cut back.
"This is an empowering thing. There are choices I can make, there are things I can do to improve my score. And really save money," O'Mara said.
It's important to note that Rocky Mountain Power protects the privacy of each customer and does not reveal the amount that any of your neighbors spend on electricity, or their identities. The report shows your power usage in relationship to an average of 100 neighbors with similar-size homes.