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When Above Average Is Not Good Enough

November/December 2015
A version of this article appears in the November/December 2015 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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November 01, 2015
Let’s imagine two neighboring families on a residential block—the Joneses and the Smiths. Their homes are of comparable size and age, and both are families of four, living typical middle-class lifestyles. Even they think they’re pretty similar, but that’s not what the utility company sees. Last year, the Joneses used over 14,000 kWh of electricity and 1,500 therms of gas, while the Smiths used 7,000 kWh and 800 therms, respectively. What’s going on in the high-using Jones household? Do they know that they’re using twice as much energy as their neighbors are using? Are they content with their usage? What motivates them—and households like them—to take action on their high energy bills, either on their own or through energy efficiency programs?

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