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March 16, 2010

Reducing energy usage

Many people see two big benefits to more efficient use of energy: First, it reduces cost. And second, it may help the environment. Are there any innovative programs that have helped people become better users of energy?

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"There is an interesting program that is being run in California, where residents there are sent reports. Now these reports are anonymous of energy usage of other households in their neighborhood.

"So, for example, if the Waldens were in California, we would get a report maybe every month that said, 'In your immediate neighborhood, here is the energy usage on average of your neighbors.'

"And what people of California have found that by a household knowing the energy usage of their fellow households they actually are motivated to reduce their own energy usage by about 1 to 2 percent.

"And furthermore it didn't matter if the average energy usage in the neighborhood compared to your household was higher or lower. People still went ahead and reduced their energy usage.

"And I think this is based on the idea that part of how and why we consume and buy things is driven by what others are doing because it sort of gives us a frame of reference.

"So this could be a very simple program. It wouldn't cost a lot of money for the power companies to implement, where we do get this report every month and we could see how it would work here in North Carolina."

Posted by deeshore at March 16, 2010 06:56 AM