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.

 

 

billy_1
6/18/2008 6:11:14 PM

Well, Piet this may come as a shock to you but here in the US of A that pesky weed is illegal! Getting busted for growing dope doesn't spark much sympathy in my realm. If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear.


pam_1
6/18/2008 7:03:44 AM

It's still my opinion that no one has any business how much electricity I use as long as I am paying for it. They can speculate all they want but "Big Brother" can't really tell how my electricity is being used. And if they say "well 4 people live in this house, you should use x amount of electricity only," that is just screwed up! What if you babysit extra kids or are housing extra guests? or doing a lot of extra baking for charities or a farmer's market? Not their business.


sara mason
6/14/2008 7:50:51 PM

I don't agree with the government snooping into anyones home. What I do in my home is my business. Now, of course, there are exceptions like child abuse and violent crimes. But as to how much energy I use.....none of their business.


piet de best _1
6/13/2008 5:02:20 AM

Dear Utne Reader, I am surprised that you could discuss an article about 'power snooping' without mentioning that the main reason for such behaviour is not to help people with their energy consumption, but to find daring entrepreneurs who grow the much-maligned weed marijuana. Grow lights require significant amounts of electricity. In addition, their onset and offset cause recognisable changes in how much power is being drawn. Law enforcement officials use such techniques (as well as flying helicopters with very sensitive infrared detection equipment over houses) to enforce draconian drug laws. A USEFUL HAIKU Sunlight is free. Snooping enables oppression. Privacy allows for freedom. Piet de Best Amsterdam