Nosey neighbours can now spy on energy bills

An American utility has stepped up a programme to let customers see their neighbor’s energy bills. Peco Energy Co. has added 260,000 customers to their comparison programme, introduced as a […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

An American utility has stepped up a programme to let customers see their neighbor’s energy bills.

Peco Energy Co. has added 260,000 customers to their comparison programme, introduced as a social experiment aimed at nudging consumers to “keep up with the Joneses” and cut their power use.

This summer, the utility issued home energy reports to a quarter of its 1.6 million customers, charting their electricity consumption compared with the average of similar households nearby.

“We want to understand whether this type of program can drive customers to take energy-efficiency measures, and if it does, whether to expand it to our other customers,” said Ben Armstrong, a Peco spokesman.

Studies of similar behavior-modification programmes have shown that customers reduced power usage by around 2% in response to the mailings.

The program is part of Peco’s five-year, $427 million (£325m) energy saving plan, approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).

The PUC says Peco needs to cut about two million megawatt hours and to reduce its peak demand by 161MW by 2021. All large state utilities are required to comply with these energy-reduction targets.