Open letter to Seattle city Light

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Dear Seattle City Light:

Thank you for your letter graphing the electricity uses in and around our neighborhood.  The visual exercise has been quite eye opening for our household.  Someone in your office is very clearly quite an expert on all things ‘graphy’.  On your letter you are providing us with very useful information. You provide us with ‘energy efficiency tips’ that you urge us to implement at our earliest convenience.  You are tracking our progress and you’ve even gone so far as to compare us to our neighbors.  How thoughtful.  We find your use of guilt interesting if not sophomoric.  Since when did it become standard practice to compare your customers to other customers?  We are not the same. We do not compare you to the water department, the garbage haulers or the gas company.  I wonder about you and your motives.  How much did it cost to send out all of these letters to your customers?

About those efficiency tips.  Let me give you a brief explanation as to what we’ve implemented prior to your letter.

  • All of the windows and doors have been weather stripped within the first few months of moving  in almost 8 years ago
  • The outside doors have been weather stripped or replaced for maximum efficiency
  • We don’t have an AC so we can’t trim the shrubs around it…unless you mean something else and I’m not going there.
  • Not only do we have a programmable thermostat, we have TWO.  The west wing has it’s own separate heat source, therefore it has a different programmable thermostat.
  • You didn’t ask, but a few years back we changed out our old tired hot water tank to a more energy efficient tank-less water heater.
  • We have insulated the floor in the crawlspace.  (actually Sweet Husband did that because I like spiders a little less than he does.)
  • While he was in the crawl space he sealed all of the furnace duct with duct tape and reattached some of the ducts to the actual vents creating the required air flow back into the house.
  • We have insulated our attic with heavier layers of insulation.
  • We have installed low voltage lighting for the outdoors.
  • Our computers are set to sleep when we are away from them for a short length of time.
  • We yell to each other when we see a light on in an unoccupied room, “Who am I?  Edison?  Turn off the light when you leave”.  Therefore creating awareness and a sense of urgency about leaving any lights on.
  • We only run the dishwasher when it’s full and sometimes stinky.
  • We wash all of our clothes in cold water, creating drab lifeless grayish whites and muted colors.  Our energy preferences show in what we wear.
  • We take Navy showers
  • We recycle all paper or burn it during the winter in our high efficiency wood stove insert.
  • We own snuggies…note I said own, we don’t actually use them because we’d look like a bunch of dorks.
  • We layer our clothing, because the weather is usually shitty and ever changing.
  • I know this has nothing to do with electricity, but we have low flow toilets and showers for maximum water efficiency.
  • Last but certainly not least I need you to understand this.  I WORK FROM HOME.  To my knowledge none of my neighbors do.  Therefore logic says that I will use more energy than my neighbors during the daytime hours as I compute, print and email.
  • And finally leave us alone.  Stop comparing us to our neighbors.  That old trick is tired and useless.  We’ve never been on board with keeping up with the neighbors at any level.   Besides, we have our own set of standards that we use when comparing us to them, so let it be.

Respectfully yours,

The Energy Hogs of Lake Forest Park

7 thoughts on “Open letter to Seattle city Light

  1. I love your writing style and your humor that gets so sharp it could cut when you get a little po’ed. I can attest to the “Who am I? Edison? Turn off the light when you leave”. It happened to me when we were there, not even company gets to waste elec in the Ecland household.

  2. Excellent!!!! You nailed it (or them, I should say)! I NEEDED A GOOD LAUGH AND HAD MANY FROM YOUR DELIGHTFUL LETTER! THANKS!

  3. I’m gonna come over in the middle of the night and turn on all your lights and I’m gonna do it running with scissors! hee hee just kiddin’! You didn’t mention that by working at home you weren’t wasting GAS commuting! Hey, can Sweet Husband come and do our crawlaway space? It less about spiders and more about claustrophobia for me!

  4. We do not weather strip the windows because we do not want to run the risk of a weather tight house that could kill us from lack of oxygen.

    However, we did replace all of the light bulbs with the low energy curly ones? Our level pay dropped 20 bucks. I can live with that.

    The electric company better not preach to me, either.

  5. I wonder if they sent the same graph to everybody. Love your reply. Would like to be a mouse in someone’s pocket or the proverbial fly on the wall, you know what I mean, when they open it.

  6. Go get ’em! Like Cathy, i wonder if they sent everyone the same graph… One more tip? Maybe you should burn the snuggies in the stove. And certainly save that particular letter for future kindling!

  7. Cathy,

    First, let me compliment you and your husband for taking so many steps to reduce your energy consumption.

    The home energy report you received is part of a pilot program to determine whether sharing information about a customer’s usage in comparison with similar homes in the surrounding neighborhood will encourage more energy conservation. We are working with a company called OPower on this project, which is reaching out to 20,000 randomly selected homes.

    And, yes, each home gets its own analysis. The charts are not duplicates.

    Obviously, there are many variables that will affect energy consumption, including the number of occupants for a home and, as you noted, whether someone works from home during the day.

    Our goal is to help our customers increase their energy efficiency and save some money. This also helps City Light meet load growth without having to build a new power plant or buy power on the open market. This keeps our rates low, once again saving our customers money.

    If you do not find the home energy reports useful, you can opt out of the program by calling our Conservation Resources Division at (206) 684-3800.

    For ideas on other things you can do to further cut your electricity use, visit

    Scott Thomsen, Sr. Strategic Advisor, Communications & Public Affairs
    Seattle City Light

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