Thursday, September 10, 2015

The thing about my power bill

I like to think of myself as a pretty environmentally aware person. I listen to a lot of NPR, I don’t litter, I recycle whenever possible, I turn off the lights when I leave a room, we have a Subaru (you know, ALL the tenets of an environmentalist) (not sure why "NPR listener" makes a difference, but I'm just going with it.) (I don't, however, own a Prius.) I may not be winning a prize anytime soon, but I try and be a good steward of the resources.

Which brings me to my power bill. In an effort to get people to conserve, every other month I get an extra page in my bill. It lists my account information and shows a terribly distressing graph of three categories of neighbors:

  • Energy efficient neighbors (who get a green bar! They are amazing human beings.)
  • Other neighbors (who get a blue bar. Not amazing, but still…in comparison.)
  •  Me. (Blackish-grey bar. Basically, a piece of shit.)

I cannot tell you how hot and bothered I get by this energy shaming. I walk around my house and look for a hidden, giant, energy-hogging appliance. I unplug chargers and electric blankets. I worry that someone is siphoning our power in a secret, government-backed project to get humans on Mars. (OK, not really on the last one…but still.) Where is this usage coming from? What is wrong with me that I can’t be the green bar person, or at least the blue bar person? Why am I the 78th person out of 100 in my neighborhood? How does this happen?

Maybe it’s a publicity stunt. Maybe the difference between the 2nd and 78th person out of 100 is less than .01%. I don’t know and my power company certainly isn’t going to be telling me any time soon.

The most important fact is that I can pay my damn bill. I might not like it, but I can pay it.

I talked with Amy about it a few weeks ago. She said her bill is the same, and she finds it every bit as bewildering. Together, we made a pact not to worry about our energy-shaming bills. I vowed to her that I will always dispose of this document in the least environmentally-friendly way possible, just to be spiteful. It would be fun to say that I will roll a blunt with it; fortunately, I’m not currently doing drugs, so that won’t happen. Maybe I’ll let Ben tear it into strips and burn it with a magnifying glass. I don’t know – I’m going to have to explore ways and means. Shredding is always an option. But I’m not going to let that piece of paper bother me anymore.

I am more than that blackish-grey line, dammit.


Britt said...

I've never seen this on my power bill. I'm going to go check right now. Maybe I don't get power shamed since I live in a different city, but Amy lives in a different city, and if she get power shamed, I might be getting power shamed too!

Britt said...

I am safe! There is no shaming on my bill. I only have the graph that compares my usage each month. August was rough. It's always our highest bill.

Feisty Harriet said...

...I don't have this on my bill either. I can compare to myself (June-August are terrible, the rest is pretty much the least amount of power a person can use in a month, clocking in at around $25 dollars worth of electricity).

...your neighborhood is the worst.