A new Turlock Irrigation District program could help local residents go green – and save money.
The Home Energy Analysis program will offer TID ratepayers an in-depth look into their energy usage, how much they may be overpaying, and tips to conserve. The information will be provided as an insert alongside monthly electricity bills.
“This is a really powerful tool for customers to make choices about how they use their electricity,” said TID Utility Rate Analyst Chris Poley.
Easy-to-read graphs will show how much energy each customer's household uses compared to houses of similar size and age. Simple five star scales let homeowners know just how they are doing in terms of energy efficiency.
The forms also show how much customers could be saving if they cut back – both in terms of wattage and cold hard cash. And the insert includes tips on how to become more energy efficient.
The paper forms tie into a new online system which can offer even more in-depth information about electricity usage. An online survey can generate more focused energy-saving tips. And the site even includes some social media features, allowing neighbors to friend one another and issue energy-saving challenges.
The measure is part of TID's ongoing effort to conserve energy, and is funded as part of the district's public benefits program. Previous residential-focused initiatives have offered rebates for energy-efficient refrigerators and discounted shade trees.
But the vast majority of past TID energy efficiency savings – 97 percent last year – have come through programs targeted at business customers. That's because it's easier for TID to save power on a large scale by replacing industrial lighting arrays, for example, rather than one home incandescent light bulb at a time.
Now, though, it's time to look at residential customers.
“Small savings from a lot of customers can really add up,” Poley said.
Customers don't have to report anything to TID as part of the Home Energy Analysis program. Ratepayers don't even have to apply to be part of the program.
A small but statistically significant group of households will not be included in the program, and will be treated like a control group. Should the households participating in the Home Energy Analysis save more energy than the control group, TID can credit those savings to the program regardless of how they occur.
“Customers, essentially, can save energy any way they like,” Poley said.
The program will be deemed a success if customers cut their electricity usage by 1.4 percent, Poley said. Some other utilities have seen as much as a 2.5 percent drop in electricity usage, following the implementation of similar programs.