Understanding the BGE Home Energy Report
Remember when your parents kept reminding you to turn off the lights when you left a room? They were energy wise long before BGE began distributing Home Energy Reports to remind you of energy- and money-saving ideas to employ around your home. Today, we now know that it’s true: being green can save you green.
You know the reports—the ones that show your use compared to your “neighbors” and little smiley or frowny faces indicating how well you are saving energy. Some customers love the challenge, tips and affirmation. Really. In survey after survey, the home energy reports get a positive response. It’s clear, though, that some customers feel the report is confusing and frustrating. We’re committed to helping all customers continue discovering value in their Home Energy Report—whether they currently love it, dislike, or ignore it altogether.
Here’s a primer.
What’s on it
The Home Energy Report is delivered by mail or email and brings the control and monitoring of your energy efficiency to you. It’s easy to set up online alerts at bge.com/MyAccount that let you know when you are trending toward a higher bill. Each report provides the following information:
- A standardized comparison or “neighbor” comparison which helps a customer understand how their home is performing relative to similar homes (but not necessarily your next-door neighbors. More on that later)
- A detailed view of the time periods when a home uses the most energy.
- Personalized steps you may want to take to become more energy efficient.
- Personal tracking that allows you to see how your home’s energy usage compares over time and across seasons.
- A Marketing Module which includes information on rebates and other programs BGE offers.
The rating system (smiley faces)
The Home Energy Reports also provide a unique and easy-to-read rating system. If you are conserving energy and your efficiency is stellar you will receive a Great rating which is highlighted online with a ?. If your energy efficiency is good but comparable homes are doing a better job of conserving energy you’ll receive a Good rating accompanied by a ?. And if you need some help with your energy conservation you will receive a Using More Than Average ? rating.
Are you a customer who can’t seem to get out of that Using More Than Average or Good rating? Do you want to get that great rating and keep it? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- When the report lists your “neighbors” these homes typically aren’t your next-door neighbors.
- To find the most accurate set of neighbors, BGE actually can search up to 100 miles.
- Your energy usage is compared to the average usage of households that are similar in size, home type, age of the house, heating system type and number of occupants.
- Make sure that you are going online to MyAccount to ensure that BGE has the correct and most up-to-date information available for your home.
BGE customer Amanda Wright didn’t pay much attention to the reports at first, until the weather got colder. “Our townhome is older, so we really saw a rise in our bill in the winter,” she said. When her bill went up and she started seeing a frowny face on her report she started making changes. “Once we started shutting off lights, switching the rotation of ceiling fans and hanging more clothes to dry, we saw a difference.” Wright says she now sees the Home Energy Report as a great reminder to keep up green good habits.
Another customer, Lynn Waters, has evangelized energy savings for over 10 years. Her quest started just after she retired. When her income changed, so did her habits. “My grandchildren tease me about unplugging any appliance, charger or power strip when it’s not in use,” Waters quipped. During the heat of the day, she draws the room darkening drapes to keep warm summer rays outside. And, she swears by her twice-yearly heat pump check-ups.
In spite of the changes, her bill seemed to remain higher than she liked. A service call revealed that her old electric meter was broken. After that, Waters took three smart steps toward saving money: first, she got a smart meter; then a smart thermostat; and finally, new windows.
Waters also takes advantage of many other ways to save. She signed up for budget billing, then had a BGE Quick Home Energy Check-up to see if she was missing any important steps to bring down her bill, and she joined the Peak Rewards program. “I highly recommend it. The online access and control is great for being proactive. I know a person who saved $50 in one day on Peak Rewards.” Waters’ monthly bill is now consistently about $40 less than two years ago.
Amanda Wright hasn’t taken all of the steps that Lynn has to lower her monthly electricity costs, but she is working on getting a smiley face on her next bill. “I have BGE’s year round energy savings tips from bge.com, and I’m scheduled for a free Quick Home Energy Check-up,” concluded Wright.
Some customers still feel less than enthusiastic about the reports, so we are always looking at ways to make improvements. That might mean refinements to the messaging—more clearly defining “neighbors” for instance—or personalizing the efficiency tips even more.
One thing to keep in mind is that BGE customers are the nationwide leaders in reducing energy to save money and decrease greenhouse gas emissions according to E Source, an energy focused market research firm. So, the next time you see a smiley face or even a frown, know that it is intended to help you keep making a big difference in energy efficiency. Thanks for leading the way!