Monday, November 12, 2012

Is Our Energy Usage Protected Free Speech?

Rather, is our carefulness in energy consumption something that should be held as private and confidential? That's how it is treated by Portland's largest electric utility, in labeling upon information mailed to me at the request of a weatherization customer. I will of course obey the injunction, not disclosing the customer name or address in any post of important lessons in the information. But, I think we might avoid carrying this too far.

What of the buyer of a home that has been flipped, perhaps sold as greened-up, perhaps by a corner-cutting meanie? I think that past billing information should routinely include that of previous owners, anonymous. A renter should be able to know for fact what previous anonymous renters have paid, for utilities. A home buyer who invests in energy efficiency should be able to track results back much further than his time of purchase.

I think that, to be useful, the more-inclusive past usage histories for gas and electricity should be in graphical form, lines or bar charts, going back many years. Responsible turnover home improvements would be fairly rewarded in new-occupant attitude. A landlord of several turnovers could show lifestyle variables if complained-against. And, yes, tenants should be entitled to care. Armed with a little more information, tenants might gain some control against a landlord who sees concern for tenant energy costs and possible needless energy waste, as bad business practice.

I admit that my attitude toward energy conservation is beyond the median. I think it would be OK for the Google Street View team to include infrared scans in Winter weather. Take that!

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