Utne Blogs > Environment

Power Snooping

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: environment, energy, power, consumption, public information,

You might think your home energy consumption is your own dirty little secret, but Lolly Merrell reports in the Bear Deluxe (#27; article not available online) that it is in fact probably public knowledge. “In most states, public service commissions require energy companies to provide the records of anyone’s power consumption upon request,” she writes. While making such requests is sometimes slow and cumbersome, she reports that more energy company websites “have made power snooping easy and inviting.”

Such snooping was famously used by a conservative group to shame Al Gore by publicizing the lavish energy use of his Nashville mansion. But Merrell points out that that the numbers can be used for constructive ends as well. She notes that a friend has gathered energy stats for her neighborhood and “plans to go door to door with a challenge: reduce each household’s consumption with the goal of lowering the entire neighborhood’s utility usage by 10 percent.” Now, if you’ll excuse me, my doorbell is ringing.