By Bill Lawyer
Con Ed has recently started the Home Energy Report Program for electric and/or gas customers in Brooklyn and Westchester County. The pilot program provides highly detailed and user specific information about energy use.
“Our goal,” says ConEd spokesperson Robert Lyn, “is to provide home energy users with information that can cut their energy use and the costs that can be decreased through that process.”
People who take the time to look at their regular ConEd statements have already been able to get some useful energy information. In addition to providing the amount of gas or electricity used in each billing period, charts are provided in the statements showing the average daily gas and electricity used over the past twelve months.
For example, the highest gas and electric usage tends to occur in the winter months, when daylight hours are shorter and the temperatures are much colder.
While some people may not be concerned about saving gas and electric expenses, the AARP is, and they have lobbied to have an independent watchdog to monitor rates. Last year, the New York Post reported that Con Edison’s residential prices are the highest charged by any major U.S. utility.
Meanwhile, the new ConEd program takes the basic energy use information to a much higher level of detail and clarity. They have collected energy use data from March 25 through May 23, 2016 and combined it with measures of all neighbors and efficient neighbors to show how you compare. They create a combined gas/electric index to simplify the comparison process.
All Neighbors is defined as approximately 100 occupied nearby homes (averaging 10 mile way) that have gas heat (they assume that nobody would be using electricity for heat). The homes they’ve selected also have similar features, such as size and building type.
Efficient Neighbors is defined as the most efficient 20% from the All Neighbors group.
Con Ed has also created an energy index, which combines electricity use (as measured in kWh) and natural gas use (as measured in therms) into a single measurement.
So, how does this help reduce energy use?
Using my home data as an example, since I use oil heat, they cannot compare my house with houses using gas heat. On the use of electricity, however, I got some good news. I used 653 kWh, which is 16% less than my efficient neighbors, and almost 50% less than all my neighbors. On a 12-month basis, that is 56% less than last year, for a savings of about $1,574 per year.
Lest I feel too smug and satisfied, the energy report contains personalized tips for saving even more energy in my house.
First on the list is to buy a new refrigerator and recycle the old one. They noted that refrigerators/freezers from the year 2000 and earlier use 40% more energy than today’s most efficient units. They say that I would save up to $195 per year if I do this.
Since most people have two refrigerators, ConEd suggests recycling your older one (mine is in the basement) then using the upstairs, newer one to replace the basement one, and then getting a new one to be the primary, upstairs one. Con Ed is offering $50 rebates for customers who do recycle the old ones.
The second personalized tip is to replace all my inefficient light bulbs — I’ve already done so with most of them, but okay — I’ll take care of that, at an estimated savings of $110 over the bulb life.
You should also make sure that your heating and air conditioning system is running at its maximum efficiency. This will help reduce your energy usage. Schedule annual air conditioning services to avoid ac breakdowns and improve your ac unit’s energy efficiency.
Having an energy-efficient water heater installation can also help you save on your utility costs. If you have a very old water heater, it may be time to have it replaced.
The final tip is to get a home energy assessment. ConEd says a “certified expert” can help prioritize savings choices that enable homeowners to make the best investment for the price.
To find out more about the Home Energy Report program, visit