Using Less of What We Sell
by Doug JohnsonBy Doug Johnson
For many across North Carolina, cold winds, ice and the occasional snow will keep us holed up indoors in the coming months, which can lead us to use more energy. For that reason, you’ll likely hear more from your electric co-op about ways to save on heating costs to keep bills under control.
But isn’t it counter-intuitive for an electric utility to advise its consumers about how to use less of the product it sells? Our cell phone carriers aren’t telling us how to use less data, after all, and I’ve never had anyone at the gas station give me tips on how to make my car more fuel efficient.
The difference is the co-op business model. As member-owned, not-for-profit utilities, North Carolina’s electric cooperatives are focused on one thing: Our members. We don’t answer to profit-driven investors, and we’re not motivated to sell any more electricity than what you need. Keeping costs low for you is a priority for the electric co-ops and our boards of directors.
Using less energy in your own home is a way to immediately reduce costs, and it also can help lower costs across the system. When we all use less energy, there’s less demand on the system, which means less power that needs to be generated, and less distribution and transmission capacity needed to move it all.
And today’s technology is helping us use energy in ever more smart and efficient ways. For one, new meter technology is making it possible for us to track electricity use in far more ways than a monthly total. With today’s advanced meters, you can get access to daily — even hourly — use data. This makes it easier for you to adjust your use to match your own energy goals, and it can even help determine the culprit behind high energy bills.
For those who want to take it a step further, energy audits of your home (whether self-administered or done by a professional) can identify everything from minor to major improvements that can help save energy. And new energy-efficient technologies for homeowners like smart thermostats, Energy Star® appliances and LED lighting are becoming more affordable, creating even more opportunities to reduce electric bills.
Electric co-ops across the state are leveraging all of this technology to empower members to use energy on their own terms. At Blue Ridge Energy, for example, we’re pulling all of these resources together in our online Energy Advisor tool, which analyzes past bills and a home profile to recommend a savings plan.
Depending on how involved the member wants to be, it can recommend one energy efficiency quick fix — such as installing LED bulbs in the most used lamps — or larger DIY projects for the “weekend warriors” among us.
The bottom line is we’re all in business to ensure you have access to safe, reliable and affordable electricity — not to sell you more of it. So if you are looking for ways to reduce bills this winter, please give your electric co-op a call. They have the tools, the know-how and the desire to help you reach your goals.