Periodically, I get letters from my utility companies, comparing my usage to my neighbors. These little slices of peer pressure have been on my list to make fun of, mostly from the angle that I don’t give a flip how I compare to my neighbors, so you just wasted a stamp and some trees. Also, I always end up “good,” so really, what is the motivation to change? I guess they think they can push my buttons by showing me the remarkable performance of my “efficient” neighbors. But again, I don’t care about what my neighbors are doing. That’s why I live in a city, where ignoring people is built in to the fabric of our community.
The most recent report caught my eye. There I am in blue, once again getting patted on the head and told I’m “Good” with a little yellow smiley face.
Do these things really work on anyone? Do people open them up, exclaim, “Look I got the yellow smiley face!” And then take action of any kind, other than throw them away? Or save them for a blog post?
But then I looked at that green flat line along the bottom, the usage of the alleged “efficient neighbors.” Notice the flat line, like the line of a patient whose heart just stopped.
Soooo…what exactly is this? You’re telling me that my “efficient” neighbors manged to use 4 therms of gas per month through the entire New England winter? It was zero degrees Fahrenheit pretty much every other day. What kind of crap is this? Suddenly, I’m very interested in how I’m being compared to my neighbors. Because it’s a damn lie! 4 therms maybe keeps your pilot light on in your stove.
Dear Gas Company: I’m only a lowly blog writer, not a utility engineer, but even I know that people who only use 4 therms of gas during a New England winter are:
- Dead and have no friends or family who care enough to check on them, and the heat has been cut off for nonpayment.
- Little princesses who can’t stand the cold and go to a warm place all winter and turn their thermostat down to 4 therms a month. P.S. They will also have frozen pipes and flooding, wasting water.
- Total cheaters who have another source of heat. I don’t think their electric bill says they are “efficient.” More like “Godzilla of usage.” Alternately they are burning away the ozone with all that wood smoke getting spewed in the sky in the name of not using gas heat. Forget solar. Only 6 people around here have solar panels.
- All of the above.
So, Gas Company, who are you really comparing me to? A bunch of freaks who don’t use gas heat? How is that a fair comparison? And how do you know where I actually fall on the spectrum, if you can’t even eliminate the outliers from your data? And for that matter, is the “Using more than average” data right? How will I know? And if it is, isn’t the bar a little low? Like any amount under average is “good.” What is this, a soccer participation award?
Now I have zero confidence in anything you tell me. And I actually think you may be a part of some conspiracy to, I don’t know, turn me into a 4 therm using zombie while you distract me with false praise and bad data.
Or this is in the top 5 of bad marketing campaigns.
Just to be on the safe side, I’m going to Google how to prepare for the zombie apocalypse/live on 4 therms month.