Residents in Bellevue and six other Eastside cities were able to drive down home energy costs by participating in a program that allowed them to compare their usage with that of neighbors.
During the Home Energy Reports program, 91,000 participating households, including 35,000 in Bellevue, reaped a total savings of approximately $4.2 million, an average savings of $45 per home. Households achieved the savings by using bi-monthly reports with suggestions for changing their usage habits.
Part of the city's Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Bellevue spent $5 per household to implement the program, using funds from a federal grant. Bellevue households saved an average of $38 each.
"Our community has shown that, given the right tools and information, we can make a real impact," said Bellevue Mayor Conrad Lee. "We look forward to seeing more innovative, cost-effective ideas like this to help residents save money and improve our health and environment."
The 14-month program, which ended earlier this year, was based on social science findings about the role of friendly competition in encouraging behavior change. The reports anonymously compared household energy usage with similar households in a neighborhood and offered customized conservation suggestions. Survey results show that most residents read the reports, changed their habits, and saved money.
Together, households in the seven-city program saved enough electricity and natural gas to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, a greenhouse gas, by 15 million pounds, the equivalent of taking 1,360 cars off the road for a year. The program included control groups in order to ensure results could be attributed to the reports.
The federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant that funded the program was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program was implemented by the C-7 New Energy Partnership, an alliance of Eastside cities (Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Redmond, Renton and Sammamish). Puget Sound Energy and OPower, an energy management software company, worked closely with the Partnership to implement the program and produce the reports.
With the program ended, the seven cities are exploring ways to build on its success. One option being considered is to use social media websites to track and share energy usage information. This could enable residents, businesses, schools and cities to create "teams" online and enter into friendly, conservation-oriented competitions.
For more information, contact Sheida Sahandy, Assistant to the City Manager, 425-452-6168 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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