What is a Home Utility Report?
January 7, 2019 •Rory Jones
A home utility report (HUR) is a report that’s compiled and emailed or sent to customers from their energy provider. It details their home energy use, similar to the miles-per-gallon sticker on the window of a new car. The report compares the consumer’s energy use to approximately 100 occupied homes in the area that are similar to theirs in size, type (condo, apartment or single-family dwelling) and the heating sources they use. It also compares their own use from year to year.
Depending upon the energy company, HURs can arrive monthly, seasonally or annually. They can determine how much energy is used each season by fuel type and heating and cooling. The report can drill down further to daily and hourly use, cost information and energy comparisons. Some HURs even break down energy use by appliance: heating, laundry, refrigeration, cooking, lighting, etc.
Putting Home Utility Reports to Work
Many people want to save energy and money, but they aren’t sure how to go about it. The HUR is a compilation of energy information consumers would never be privy to otherwise. If they want to save money and energy, the report gives them the personalized tips and tools to do so.
The HUR may provide rebate offers on showerheads, low-flow toilets or appliance recycling. Energy tips in the report may include ways to use thermostats to manage heating and cooling costs (if you’re gone during the day, why heat or cool the house as though you’re there?), replacing your refrigerator with a more energy-efficient model. The energy tips also show how much the consumer, personally, can save in a year by making small changes. One example: Installing a programmable thermostat, which can save $162 a year.
Small Changes, Big Picture
Small changes can add up for the community as well. It’s difficult to get people to make big, expensive changes in an effort to conserve energy and save money. But making small changes is much easier. By getting large numbers of people to make small changes, cities and energy companies win big on energy savings. These reductions in energy use reduce the need to build new power plants, saving billions.
HURs are behavior-change programs. The report challenges energy consumers' notion of what “normal” energy use is. If customers think they use a small amount of energy and then find out that they’re on the high end of the energy-use spectrum, that could be the social pressure and motivation utilities need to persuade customers to change their ways. It’s the energy efficiency version of keeping up with the Joneses.
The savings estimates in HURs are drawn from third-party sources including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star program. The reports and the recommendations they provide are fully customized to each household (based on time of year and the energy used in house) and it’s free. Personal information isn’t shared with anyone else. By saving consumers money and saving power for the community, the HUR is a win-win offering.