energy benchmarking

Happy METU Monday!

What exactly does METU do?

1.      Energy Benchmarking: You can’t manage what you don’t measure!
2.      Municipal Readiness Reports: Project pipeline
3.      Project Management: Professional cat herding from “cradle to grave”

METU Goals:
Remove barriers, save money, repeat.  It’s that simple!

Let us save money for you!

Look out for METU near you!

METU is continually looking to assist municipal partners in the San Joaquin Valley.  If you are in one of the following counties and have PG&E gas or electric service, call us today!

Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare counties. 

Connect with us:
T (877) 748-0841

Check out our NEW website!

Happy METU Monday!

We would like to start your week with a very common question:

The answer to all your energy efficiency needs is to install solar, right?

Solar is a great way to save on your energy costs.  However, implementing solar without first implementing energy efficiency measures will cause short-fall of your energy and money saving potential.

Food for thought:
  1. If energy efficiency is not implemented first, you will likely spend more money on a solar system that is much bigger than what your needs are.
  2. When solar and energy efficiency are combined, an additional 3-6 cents per kWh is saved which, on a large scale, can mean big $$$!
When considering solar, remember it always goes hand-in-hand with energy efficiency.

Look out for METU near you!
As always, we are excited to be working with so many of our local government partners!  We are steam rolling along with projects in the cities of Avenal, Corcoran, and Arvin.  Also, the city of Taft is back on board and ready to get started on energy efficiency projects.  We have completed benchmarking and delivered their Municipal Readiness Reports (MRRs).  Stay tuned for more updates!

Connect with us:
T (877) 748-0841

Check out our NEW website!


Is your infrastructure in need of a tune-up?

If you answered yes to the above question, then let us introduce you to the Municipal Energy Tune Up (METU) Program.

METU offers energy efficiency project assistance from “cradle to grave” to all central valley local governments.

  • Energy Benchmarking measures energy usage at each of your sites to identify opportunities for energy and money savings.
  • Readiness Reports to outline the steps needed to get the project done and information to get projects approved.
  • Advanced Project Assistance should your staff lack the time to manage the project to completion.

These services are made possible with funding from PG&E and completely free of charge to you. Don’t have the budget for energy efficiency projects? We can help with that too!

Connect with us today!
T: (877) 748-0841

Check out our new website!

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

Here are your wEEkly updates:

1. Events Galore: To start off strong: registration is now open for the California Adaptation Forum, September 7-8th in Long Beach.

2. ZNE Webinar 6/15: Learn about a recent zero net energy (ZNE) study and how industry leaders are not waiting to take advantage of this $1.3 trillion market in this webinar from Build It Green.

3. Multifamily ZNE Workshop 6/24: Hear zero net energy (ZNE) expertise speak to SF’s Chinatown Community Development Center, and available technical assistance and incentives at this 6/24 workshop on ZNE in multifamily in San Francisco. For more on ZNE click here.

4. CEC Resiliency Workshop 6/21: last week’s announcement of resiliency grants from PG&E was a popular item: to get engaged on resiliency, adaptation, and energy, join this CEC Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) workshop focused on resiliency and adaptation June 21st. For more on resiliency, click here.

5. Local Government-Utility Partnerships Evaluation 6/20: California’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and Evergreen Economics invite you to attend a webinar presentation June 20th on the new draft plan for evaluating local government partnerships (LGPs).

6. EDAC Quarterly Meeting 6/21: Also June 21st: the Energy Data Access Committee is holding its quarterly meeting – RSVP to join in person or by webinar.

7. EE in Pneumatics 6/23: making older pneumatic building systems efficient can be a challenge – but converting to DDC controls is usually cost-prohibitive. Learn about an energy efficient (and more cost efficient) retrofit in this 6/23 webinar. (Or for more on EE in pneumatic building systems, see this white paper.)

8. Prop 39 Plans Due 6/30: Get the word out to schools and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) in your jurisdiction: Expenditure Plan Applications are due at the end of the month. For more on funding, click here.

9. CAEECC Update: Hear an update from the Coordinating Committee on the business plan development process for California EE programs and funding – including notes from past meetings and announcement of a next meeting 7/13.

10. Electric and Efficient Vehicle $$ from DOE: Earlier this week the U.S. Dept. of Energy announced $22 million to support research, development, and demonstration of innovative plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) and direct injection propane engine technologies, as well as community-based projects to accelerate the adoption of light, medium, and heavy duty vehicles that operate on fuels such as biodiesel, electricity, E85, hydrogen, natural gas, and propane.
CEC Electric Vehicle Infrastructure FundingPresentations are now available from CEC’s 6/6 workshop.

11. $3 million from San Diego’s APCD: The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District is currently accepting applications for the Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Grant Program.

12. Benchmarking best practices: benchmarking building energy use is a great practice for good management and discovery of energy-saving opportunities – and if becoming more and more widespread with AB 802 implementation. Learn how to best leverage benchmarking in this eBook, Building Energy Benchmarking & Transparency Laws. For more on benchmarking, click here.

13. EPA Portfolio Support and More: while on benchmarking, new federal webcasts are available for Portfolio Manager support, Tribal Renewable Energy, and more.

14. Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe Microgrid: for inspiration on tribal renewable energy (and beyond), check out this case study.

15. EE Code trainings and resources: The 2016 Title 24 standards become effective in 2017. Are you ready? Learn more about new fact sheets, resources and training offerings from Energy Code Ace.

16. Blueprint Newsletter: The California Energy Commission (CEC)’s Blueprint May/June newsletter is out! See newsletter highlights, including lighting compliance and electric water heater guidance, and read the newsletter in full.

17. Lighting Code Webinar: the California Advanced Homes Program is hosting a webinar 6/28 to help prepare for 2016 code lighting requirements – join yourself, or share with your buildings community!

18. Big energy savings from water savings: Saving water saves energy: less water used means less water pumped, less water heated or cooled, and less water treated – but how much? A new study from UC Davis helps us understand just how significant those energy savings are. 

19. Fontana tests operational ZNE: The development of zero net energy (ZNE) homes in Fontana announced this April got press in the New York Times article: A Suburban Experiment Aims for Free Energy. Hear feedback from the Genaus, a family living in one of the homes (and seeing utility bills of $10 on their 2,800 sq.ft. 3-bedroom residence), and check out a great slide show of the homes.

20. Reaching Low-Income CommunitiesNew case studies from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency share best practices in reaching low-income communities with EE and renewable energy resources.

21. Advanced Energy in Huntington Beach: Congratulations to the City of Huntington Beach for its award of CEC EPIC Program funding for energy efficiency, renewables, zero net energy, and new technologies deployment under the Advanced Energy Communities program. Learn more about the project here.

22. CAP Adopted: Congratulations to Del Mar, whose City Council voted unanimously to adopt its climate action plan (CAP), which aims to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions in half in less than 20 years. Learn more about the CAP’s priorities here.

23. Green real estate resources: Last week’s post on next week’s greenrealtor training in Yolo County was also popular. Here are some additional green realtor certification trainings in Anaheim (June 29th/30th) and Burbank (July 25th/26th). Or, check out our new trainings resources page.

24. Job Announcement: Cal State University Long Beach is hiring for an Energy Analyst! Learn more here.

25. Job Announcement: The Local Government Commission is hiring for a Climate Change Coordinator! Learn more here.

26. Finally, there will be no WEEkly Updates next week due to the 7th Annual SEEC Forum June 15th-16th in Riverside. We have record registrations from local governments across the state, and a great line up of local government, utility, state, and expert-led sessions: I hope to see you there!

You can keep track of relevant events by connecting to the EE Events Calendar, and find more resources being added daily on the EECoordinator website – including past WEEkly Updates

That’s all for this week!

Energy Audits of Small Government Buildings

A walk through audit is just that--walking through a building, looking for quick and easy ways to save energy.  You're not looking to see if the occupancy sensor in a room needs to be relocated, but rather finding obvious energy-saving measures.  And when performed after benchmarking your building(s), you can save time and money by only auditing buildings that have a really high energy foot print for the type of building it is.  Here at SJVCEO we benchmark A LOT of small government buildings, so we have a pretty good sense of how much energy a City Hall of a certain size consumes here in the San Joaquin Valley.  Or a fire station, or even a police station.  And the more similar facilities we benchmark, the stronger our case is when we say “This building needs an audit. Here’s where it falls on the spectrum of similar facilities in the San Joaquin Valley.”  Wouldn't you like to know if you should be keeping up with the Joneses?  Or, what if you are the Joneses?
The first part of performing a walk through audit is to gather up all the information and equipment you may need before you walk in.  That includes:
  • An energy consumption chart of the past 12 month of energy consumption.  It may help you identify and/or confirms problems in the building.
  • Satellite imagery.  How large is the building?  Does it have an attached parking lot?  How many rooftop units might you encounter?  Google Streetview can help you here too.
  • The building's floor plan.  If you're marking potential energy-saving measures, you'll want to note where they are.  Also, so you don't get lost!
  • A camera phone.  An iPhone takes really pictures, has a built-in flash, and is thin enough to fit around tight corners.  And sometimes, the zoom is pretty decent too.
  • A light meter.  How much light hits the surfaces that are to be illuminated?  Is it enough, too much or not enough?  Ensuring there's the right amount of light hitting surfaces can reduce your energy consumption and/or increase office productivity.
  • A fluorescent ballast checker.  A T-8 lamp may look energy efficient, but it could be running on a magnetic ballast, known to consume more energy than necessary.  Using one of these lets you find out if they are without opening up the fixture.
  • A clipboard and paper.  You may not have a surface available to write on, and you'll definitely be taking notes along the way.
  • Typical energy consumption breakdown for the building's use.  You can go to the California End Use Survey (CEUS) website, which will show you on average how much each end use (lighting, cooling, heating) consumes for a type of building. The charts it produces help you focus your efforts by identifying where the largest amount of energy goes.
    Lighting, office equipment, and air conditioning
    are the largest consumers of energy
    in San Joaquin Valley small offices. Source: CEUS
Once you're in the building, you'll want to talk to individuals how may know the most about how the building operates.  When does the lights come on?  Who turns off and on the thermostat?  Speaking of thermostats...

Be sure to record the schedule and temperature settings of the thermostats.  Workers don't like to be uncomfortable, so the settings they plug into it might indicate a lot.  If they have the cooling temperature set really low, that might indicate a failing compressor or vents located in the wrong places.  You may not be able to point out a fix, but the building operators should definitely know to consider looking more into it.

Also, the schedule might be off!  Maybe it comes on 2 hours before work starts, or stays on longer than it needs to.  A lot of City Halls also hold City Council meetings at night, but typically not weekends, and especially not every night.  Those changes are quick and painless, and result in instant and often impressive savings.

Look in the cubicles.  Are there smart power strips?  Often overlooked, but employees aren’t at their desk all the time. If there’s nothing to turn off auxiliary devices when their space is vacant, there’s some additional savings.  While you're there, ask if the computers go to sleep or into hibernation automatically.  If they don't, there's even more savings there too!

Look for occupancy sensors in areas that aren't occupied often, like bathrooms and conference rooms, and especially Council chambers.  Lights in those areas are often left on longer than they need to be, and can be easily retrofitted for quick savings.

Take a look outside, too.  Some building-attached lighting can be really inefficient, and even more so if they are on an indoor switch.  Changing them to a photo sensor or time clock can save a lot of money without a lot of headache.  Even more can be saved by switching to LED.  The same goes for parking lot lights.  Their long run hours make for a quick payback, even if the building is on a time-of-use rate.

Once you're finished tallying up all the measures, you'll want to calculate how much each will save. Some will be easier (like lighting) than others.  Energy rates can be found on their respective utility company's website, or you can use a general Annual Consumption divided by Annual Cost for an average Cost per kWh.  Don't bother getting too bogged down in calculating exactly how much each measure will save, as this is just a walk through audit.  Prices for materials are easy to find, but labor can be a different story.  Find the prevailing wage rate for the type of work (for electrical, its typically Inside Wireman) and make an assumption for how much time the work might take, or ask your City Engineer for an estimate.  Take that cost, and divide it by annual cost savings, and you have yourself the Simple Payback.  You can even take the inverse of that number (1/X) and get the Return on Investment percentage too.  Do this for every measure, total it up, and do it again.  Some measures might have a long payback, but combined with faster payback measures, you can get a lot of savings very quickly!

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

Here are your wEEkly updates:

1. Save the Date: the Capital Region’s Climate Readiness Collaborative will hold its Quarterly Meeting June 21st, and will feature work around developing resilient communities, including a project pursuing Living Building Certification and Zero Net Energy affordable housing.

2. EDAC Survey to Local Governments: There is a special opportunity to take part in a short local government survey (released this week) to help the Energy Data Access Committee better understand how current energy data rules align with the needs of local governments in their development of greenhouse gas inventories and climate action plans.

3. Need weatherization funds? I’ve been getting a number of questions regarding weatherization funding, so I checked in with a representative on weatherization funding opportunities at California’s Department of Community Services and Development (CSD) – who shared information on three weatherization programs CSD administers to provide California with EE and solar funds – and how local governments can get involved.

4. EE and roofs: while on the topic of building envelope, a range of resources to make roofs more energy efficient (including air barriers, matching roof color to climate, and green roofs) is covered by Energy Manager here.

5. Showcasing innovation: The California Energy Commission (CEC) has launched a new Energy Innovation Showcase website to communicate and track progress on innovative projects awarded funding under the CEC’s EPIC program – with information on microgrids, innovative EE, and more.

6. Open EPIC solicitations: pre-application questions and answers are now posted for those interested in applying to the Los Angeles Regional Innovation Energy Cluster grant funding opportunity. (Or click here for more on funding.)

7. Using energy data and EMS to save: energy management systems allow for better building control, avoiding wasted energy, money, and improving building comfort. Learn what commercial real estate and municipal leads are doing to save.

8. Congratulations to the City of Oakland: Oakland was the first to use ACEEE’s new self-reporting tool to share EE policies and programs at the local level, and was found to be a top scorer nationwide.

9. EE residential savings as a financial commodity? Learn about a new method for motivating and financing residential energy efficiency upgrades that has earned a $5 million investment from the New York Green Bank.

10. Hotel EE and water management: Are hotels part of your community's energy footprint? Learn what motivates hotels on energy and water savings in a hotel survey covered by Environmental Leader.

11. EE and cost savings through VRF: Learn more about how a school is finding energy and cost savings through an HVAC upgrade to variable refrigerant flow here.

12. Advanced Energy Jobs: AEE reviews the U.S. DOE’s recent Energy and Employment Report using an energy index, and finds 2.7 million employed in advanced energy nationwide, and more.

13. New incentives for generation? A new Proposed Decision revising the Self Generation Incentive Program was released by the CPUC this week. See the major changes and get a link to the full Proposed Decision.

14. Solar+storage for multi-family: a new report reviews the economics of adding solar to storage in California’s affordable multi-family housing – and makes some interesting discoveries (which will be covered in a June 15th webinar).

15. TDV Workshop Presentations: Those working toward zero net energy (ZNE) may be interested in reviewing the Time Dependent Value (TDV) of energy presentations now available from the California Energy Commission (CEC)’s May 12th workshop, now available.

16. Funding deadline: for those submitting to the Healthy Cities and Counties Challenge, a reminder that the deadline is May 31st.

17. Benchmarking in the news: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and others make the news this week for energy benchmarking.

18. The latest in all-electric buses: new battery technology is changing the equation for deployment of electric buses. Learn how, and who’s moving on electric buses.

19. SDG&E EV Pilot: for more on electric vehicles, SDG&E has kicked off its $52.5 million electric vehicle pilot. Read more in the San Diego Union Tribune.

20. Who’s Coolest in Residential EE: Highlights from the Cool California Awards for top participating cities are now available! Miss which cities won Coolest Cities of 2016? Take a look at Energy Upgrade California’s April press release.

21. Job announcement: California’s Air Resources Board is hiring! Learn more about their open Air Pollution Specialist position.

22. Job announcement: the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is hiring! Learn more about their open Public Relations Assistant position.

As always, you can keep track of relevant events by connecting to the EE Events Calendar, and find more resources being added daily on the EECoordinator website – including past WEEkly Updates.

That’s all for this week!

What Has SJVCEO Been Up to?

SJVCEO hopes that everyone's been enjoying their summer and are ready to head back to school or work. During the past month the team has been busy working away on energy projects and planning community outreach events.

The organizations VIEW Partnership has been very active during the summer months. Many of their Cities and Counties are continuing to get projects moving along with each utility. One of the more exciting items to announce is that the City of Hanford has adopted its Climate Action Plan. This CAP as they term it in the office was all the hard work of one of their dedicated employees, Sarah Farell. A CAP is a plan for ways to reduce emissions in a cost effective manner after green house gas inventories are collected and analyzed. The team is also starting work on the County of Kings Energy Action Plan (EAP). In a EAP the Cities and Counties lay out how they will be using their energy resources in the future as well as how they plan to conserve.

Also, the VIEW Partnership is beginning their planning process for their upcoming "Energy Awareness Month" campaign in October. This year they are looking to expand the number of events that the Partnership will be doing. They will also be expanding events to include their Southern California Edison territories. So be on the lookout for event information that will uploaded to their VIEW the Savings webpage (

As for the Municipal Energy Tune Up (METU) program they are making huge leaps and bounds. The METU team is about done with the benchmarking of Kern County and will then analyze the data collected to see what projects can be recommended for energy savings. Also, while the team has time they will the begin benchmarking the City of Selma. With the City of Selma having fewer accounts than a County would the team should have the project completed quickly. Our METU team here at SJVCEO is very excited to continue the work that they do with City and County officials. They enjoying bringing a smile to faces once officials hear how much they can be saving in energy and on their bills.

Stay Tuned for Next Month's Update!

What Has SJVCEO Been Up to in May

During the month of May SJVCEO has been very busy cracking down on killowatts in our jurisdictions. Each of our programs have been working hard saving local governments, homeowners and businesses energy and money on their electricity bills.

For the VIEW Partnership our team members have been busy planning community outreach events as well as benchmarking away! We have been working on updating all energy data in our online benchmarking system and moving projects through the energy pipeline. We are happy to announce that we are well on our way of meeting our energy saving goal for the year!

Our community outreach events are beginning to take shape for the fall. This year we are planning to have around 4 events during the months of September and October. These events are in the early planning stages and will be announced and shared on our webpage once plans are finalized. The VIEW Partnership is also happy to announce the expansion of our community outreach events. Starting in 2016 the Partnership will be working with SoCal Edison on putting together summer outreach events. We will be looking into partnering with Edison and the local communities for fun summer events as well as cooling centers. We here at VIEW are very excited about our upcoming events. We enjoy being out in the community educated residents on energy efficiency programs that are available to them. 

Our METU program that is working with municipalities in PG&E territory is making great headway. We have just completed benchmarking the City of Fowler and found some savings in both their lighting as well as their HVAC systems.  After we presented our data analysis to the City of San Joaquin we found savings potential in their waster water treatment plant, water wells, lighting and HVAC and are moving those projects forward. We will report the savings back to you once we get the final numbers. Our METU team will be beginning to benchmark the City of Firebaugh the end of this month and hope to have large potential savings in their waste water treatment plants. Our next presentations of our program will be at the Cities of Reedley and Kingsburg.

Since we are part of the EV Partnership here in the San Joaquin Valley we are happy to announce that the Partnership now has a new webpage. Click here to check it out. Make sure to check up on the website since it is loaded with important EV tips and news updated on a regular basis.

Check in next month to see what else we have been up to!

CURRENTS: An Energy Newsletter for Local Governments | Summer 2013 Edition

CURRENTS is a publication by Pat Stoner, the Statewide Local Government Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator.  Pat has been writing and distributing CURRENTS: An Energy Newsletter for Local Governments since 1998.  We thank Pat for allowing us to post his newsletter on our blog.  To subscribe to CURRENTS, email Patrick Stoner ( 

Please visit the Statewide Coordinator web site at:

Energy Efficiencies In Five Rural Communities In Five Days

Congressman Jim Costa, Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson, Mendota Mayor Robert Silva, and officials from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Richard Heath and Associates (RHA), and the Center for Irrigation Technology’s Advanced Pumping Efficiency Program were on hand to kick off a week long campaign of energy efficiency upgrades to the western Fresno County rural communities of Mendota, Kerman, Firebaugh, San Joaquin, Coalinga and Huron last August. The campaign was dubbed ‘Five Cities, Five Days.” read more...

Sonoma County Community Choice Aggregation

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted to implement Sonoma Clean Power. This program will focus on providing a cleaner power mix for Sonoma County customers. The Board's decision means that this service will be made available to about 100,000 customers in the unincorporated areas of the county. read more...

How Benchmarking Makes Cities Smarter

By Caroline Keicher Program Manager, Building Energy Performance Policy, The Institute for Market Transformation

2013 looks like it will be a banner year for building energy benchmarking and disclosure policies. With Philadelphia’s policy adoption closing out 2012 on a high note, Minneapolis got us started strong in January of 2013—becoming the seventh U.S. city, and the first in the Midwest, to pass a policy requiring transparency of energy performance in large commercial buildings. read more...

ACEEE Report: Assisting Home Buyers With Increased Energy Use Information

What if people could have access to a piece of valuable information that they don’t currently receive about the house they are considering for purchase? What if this could happen with very little bureaucracy and limited program implementation costs? Sound appealing? read more...

Trading New Development For Water Savings In Napa

The City of Napa has a medium-sized water system of about 25,000 connections. Its Water Demand Mitigation (Water Offset) requirement for new development has historically been known as the ‘Toilet Retrofit Program,’ because the water savings were achieved by replacing older 3.5+ gallon-per-flush (gpf) toilets with 1.6 gpf ultra-low-flush toilets (ULFTs). Several years ago, that replacement toilet specification changed to EPA WaterSense-labeled 1.28 gpf high-efficiency toilets (HETs). read more...

Optimizing Municipal Facility Performance: Retrocommissioning Program Toolkit For Local Governments

By The California Sustainability Alliance

In its Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) established a strategic framework for helping local governments advance sustainability within their jurisdictions. The Plan calls for local governments to influence the community, leverage local authority and lead by example by improving resource efficiency, reducing carbon emissions and cutting energy bills in their own facilities. read more...

Solar Energy Resource Guide

The Northern California Solar Energy Association (NorCal Solar) released its 9th edition Solar Energy Resource Guide (SERG) last July. This highly-regarded publication is a primer on just about all things solar, written and reviewed by experts. read more...

Zero Net Energy For Policymakers & Local Governments

Are you pursuing zero net energy (ZNE) buildings, goals or policies in your jurisdiction?Do you need information, tools and other resources to help?
Connect with public sector leaders in Sacramento on July 16th for a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Leadership meeting to share experiences and learn about tools and resources to achieve ZNE. read more...

Upcoming Events

The following list of upcoming events may be of interested to you. read more...

Believe it or Not: I love my smart meter!

It wasn't all that long ago that California's Central Valley erupted in a fervor. Not quite as monumental as the Arab Spring, but intense...for California.  And what was at the heart of this movement, this act of rebellion?  Class warfare?  Ineffective government?  Double digit unemployment?  Nope. It was this guy on the right.

The PG&E SmartMeter roll out in Bakersfield, California has been called a text book case on how not to roll out a smart meter installation campaign.  Lois Henry, over at the Bakersfield Californian has spent the last four years covering the brouhaha in great detail.  But I'm here to tell you a different story--a story of love. I'm here to tell you about my love affair with my SmartMeter.

Yup, Believe it or not, I live in central California and I LOVE MY SMARTMETER!

Over the top?  No, not once you understand our journey.  SmartMeter came to our house quietly in 2009.  I remember the "while you were out" notice on the door, and walking around the side of the house to say hi, but that's about it.  It wasn't love at first site.  Around the same time I had my head down and was working many late nights trying to learn my way through the energy industry and SJVCEO was still trying to find its place.   It wasn't until 2010 when I took over as the lead on the VIEW Partnership and fell into the rabbit hole that is energy benchmarking I started thinking more about my own energy use.  I wondered if I couldn't learn how to better serve our local governments through better understanding the way I used energy.

SmartMeter allowed me to see how I used my energy throughout the day.  I could log on to my PG&E account (before the launch of My Energy) and pull a graph from the day before.  It looked something like this:

Okay, that's a graph from My Energy, but with the exception of the pretty colors the content is the same. This was eye opening!  I could watch my habits throughout the day. That spike at 7:00 a.m.?  That's when I couldn't handle a blow dryer, curling iron and a house at 78 degrees and cranked the AC down to 74.  You'll notice it decreases after 8:00 a.m. when likely my husband woke up freezing and returned the thermostat to 79 (where he likes to diligently keep it). I could see Ryan (husband) and Dutch (Saint Bernard) warm up as the day progressed; as the the temperature crept up to 110 degrees so did our energy use.  And, back in these days things like laundry and dishwashers ran during the day so we didn't have to worry about chores eating in to our "us time". Well, we learned to adapt.

I realized that we could just as easily run the dishwater overnight, despite that it annoys Dutch to no end, and do the laundry in the mornings.  I also learned to wear my hair in a ponytail much more frequently in the summer months so I didn't have to worry about the heat of styling, which kept the AC off until after noon.  Oh, and those spikes at the end of the day? That's me again.  I hate sleeping in a hot house so I would turn the temperature down to go to sleep.  I had to give up the compulsion to sleep under a blanket no matter the season.  It was hard, but I've survived.  And, my power bill went down.  A lot.

Comparing August 2009 to August 2010 we had fewer peaks and less time in the 5 kWh+ zone, and a bill that was more than $100 less than the previous year.  Woo hoo!

That was my Koolaid; that's when I became and energy efficiency evangelist.

I realized it wasn't retrofits (although some serious insulation helped), but behavior modification that made the biggest difference.  And so it became my mission to integrate behavior modification recommendations in all our SJVCEO work.  My SmartMeter, and what I was able to learn and appreciate gave me a story that I could share and relate to the work that we were doing in the Valley.  Why benchmark thousands of municipal energy accounts (poor Maureen)? Because, seeing your energy habits sitting right next to cost makes a heck of an impression.  It also lets you see what you're doing right and not-so-right.  Now, I could tell a city, "hey, your office facilities are using almost as much energy at night as they are in the day.  Maybe we should take a look at what your staff is doing." But that usually elicits a "sure, let's look at it next quarter."  Now, if I have my laptop I can log in to the city's Portfolio Manager account and say, "See your use and how much it's costing you at City Hall? That's more than twice the national average for a similar space.  Why don't we take a look and see if we can't get this bill lower than $16,000 per month."  Then I'm more likely to get someone to escort me through the building after hours and see that office lights and nonessential machines are let on, and that the A/C is still kicking away at the government building standard--just short of Arctic!  That knowledge can lead to an education campaign to get employees to shut down at night, and perhaps even designates a person to make sure the A/C is turned up to keep the space controlled, but not freezing.  Say these simple steps, these behavior modifications end up saving a city $1,000 per month? Maybe more?  That's why we benchmark thousands of municipal energy accounts (still, poor Maureen).

So yeah, I love my SmartMeter, but the problem is not everyone has a SmartMeter--or an intelligent metering system.  Not even the everyone in the San Joaquin Valley has one...but that's about to change!

As mentioned in my ode to Carl and Eddy Southern California Edison's SmartConnect is coming to town!  This means that those residential and small business customers in our VIEW Partnership and beyond (Armona, California Hot Springs, Camp Nelson, Delano, Ducor, Earlimart, Goshen, Hanford, Ivanhow, Lemon Cove, Lindsay, McFarland, Pixley, Porterville, Springville, Strathmore, Terra Bella, Three Rivers, Tipton, Tulare, Tule River Indian Reservation, and Woodlake) are going to be able to track their energy use electronically and we don't have to do anything (yay for Maureen!).

At SJVCEO (even beyond my desk) we're pretty excited about SmartConnect, so we're going to take a team approach  to sharing the enthusiasm with the blogosphere.  On Wednesday, October 3 Maureen's Wellness Wednesday will address the question of intelligent meters and radio frequency, and on October 8th Dee's Money Monday will address how SmartConnect can help small businesses and residents invest wisely in energy efficiency.  I may even pull together another BION, but we'll have to see how October goes!  And because no one wants a Friday blog with out a couple of talking houses, here are my buddies, Carl and Eddy!  This time Carl gets the drop on Eddy and has to breakdown the super cool online tools that work with SmartConnect--darn, I gave it away!

 photo credit: Steve Wilhelm via photopin cc