Searching for The Outlier Energy User Who Saves 8-20%

Sept. 15, 2015
A team of cultural anthropologists has launched a search for the outlier energy user who saves 8 percent to 20 percent on energy bills. The team members have identified that these energy users–8 percent to 10 percent of the population–are out there racking up energy savings, but don’t fit any specific demographic.

A team of cultural anthropologists has launched a search for the outlier energy user who saves 8 to 20 percent on energy bills.

The team members have identified that these energy users– eight 8 to 10 percent of the population–are out there racking up energy savings, but are certain these people aren’t just energy geeks, says Susan Mazur Stommen, founder of Indicia Consulting and director of the project in this podcast.

With a grant of more than $500,000 from the California Energy Commission, Mazur’s team is following up on her earlier research that uncovered data anomalies in energy usage.

“The average person saves 1 percent to 2 percent,” says Stommen. “But about 8 percent to 10 percent of the population save between 8 percent and 20 percent,” she says.

These folks don’t seem to fit into any specific income bracket or other demographic. But they do seem to have one thing in common: They are emotionally attached to their smart phones and enjoy being productive with their phones.

“The 10 percent of the population seems to be responsible for these large savings under different circumstances,” she says. “These people aren’t associated with any demographic groups, but we think they have an affinity for technology that lends them to save energy with technology.”

In the study, the team is conducting in-depth interviews in California with people in their homes, trying to understand how the energy users relate to their everyday personal technology. The team will then correlate this information with energy saving data.

“These people are not necessarily technical people or early adopters of technology. These could be grandmothers or students who have smart phones, and who genuinely squeeze as much juice as possible out of their personal technology and really love it,” she says. “We’re making the distinction between people who love their technology and get a lot out of it, and people who are early adopters of technology.”

This is the first time a team of anthropologists has looked at energy consumption–and maybe it’s about time, given that this group has uncovered such a fascinating trend in energy savings.

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About the Author

Lisa Cohn | Contributing Editor

I focus on the West Coast and Midwest. Email me at [email protected]

I’ve been writing about energy for more than 20 years, and my stories have appeared in EnergyBiz, SNL Financial, Mother Earth News, Natural Home Magazine, Horizon Air Magazine, Oregon Business, Open Spaces, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, Renewable Energy World, Windpower Monthly and other publications. I’m also a former stringer for the Platts/McGraw-Hill energy publications. I began my career covering energy and environment for The Cape Cod Times, where Elisa Wood also was a reporter. I’ve received numerous writing awards from national, regional and local organizations, including Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Willamette Writers, Associated Oregon Industries, and the Voice of Youth Advocates. I first became interested in energy as a student at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, where I helped design and build a solar house.

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