Like many people, I have a pretty good idea of how much I spend every week on groceries.
I also have a pretty good idea of how much many of the grocery items that I buy week in and week out cost. Bananas are 19 cents each at my neighborhood Trader Joe’s and a gallon of orange juice at Target is a little over $5.00.
I also have a pretty good idea of which things are the big ticket items in my grocery bill. Cheese is near the top of that list. If I wanted to conserve on my weekly grocery bill, reducing the amount of cheese purchased would be a good way to make a noticeable reduction.
I cannot say the same thing of my monthly electric bill. I don’t know how many kilowatt hours (kWh) each of the plugged-in items in my house consume. I don’t have a good sense for which are the big electricity consuming items in my house. And if I wanted to consume less electricity, would unplugging the cable box when it is not in use reduce electrical consumption by more than being vigilant about turning out the lights?
Based on a data point of one (me), one challenge to encouraging households to adopt energy efficiency efforts is information, or more precisely, the lack of information. Recent academic work also queries whether a lack of information hinders households from adopting of energy efficient measures.
OPOWER’s Home Energy Reports provide a step in the information-provision direction with monthly reports comparing your household’s consumption relative to your neighbors. These reports also provide the previous twelve months of monthly comparisons so some households may be able get a rough sense for how efficient their summertime air conditioning use is relative to their neighbors.
In addition, a number of public utilities have partnered with public libraries to lend out Kill A Watt monitors in the same way books are lent. A Kill A Watt monitor allows you to plug an electrical device into it and then reports out its electricity consumption by the kWh.
To better inform my household’s monthly energy bill, and perhaps others as well, over the next few weeks I will be measuring the electricity consumption of plug-in devices and appliances in our household using a Kill A Watt monitor. As the saying goes, Information is Power. Stay tuned for a report back on the findings….