Electric Lies

Once a week, I go through the mail, pay any bills that are due in the coming week and review my credit card account for accuracy. This week I had a notice from my electric provider, which purports to judge my electricity use compared to my neighbors. I get these once a month, but I just toss them in the trash. I don’t care how I compare to my neighbors on anything, much less something as unimportant as electric use. My assumption is the state has told the provider they have to do this for some reason. I don’t know.

This month, I decided to look at it. The report alleges that the good neighbors in my area are using 214 kWh per month. To put that in perspective, a 100-watt bulb left on all day uses about 2400 watts or 100 watts per hour. That’s 72 kWh per month. That means my moral neighbors have three 100-watt bulbs burning all day everyday, but nothing else. Assuming they have other things, those bulbs are off most of the time, so they can have enough juice to run the fridge and maybe charge a cellphone a few times a month.

This is, of course, complete nonsense. To be generous with the electric company, it is most likely the case that they are using data from homes that are unoccupied or perhaps hovels that are now vacant, except for one light at the door. No one, not even someone in a studio apartment can get by with just a few bulbs worth of electric. A typical desktop PC will use 60 kWh per month, assuming the user turns it off at night. Modern television, gaming systems and other video devices use similar amounts of electricity.

In my case, I am a fanatic about turning lights off as I leave a room. It’s not that I give a damn about the planet, which I don’t, it’s that leaving lights on bugs me. In my home, the only light on at any time is the light in the room I’m currently in at the moment. I turn the light off as I leave the room. The only devise I leave on is my desktop, the refrigerator and the charger to my mobile phone. Since I’m not home most of the day and I’m asleep most of the night, my energy use is as close to the minimum as is possible.

Yet, the electric company informs me that I’m a wastrel compared to my neighbors. In fact, they claim I use twice what my good neighbors use. Of course, there are some things that we take for granted, like the HVAC unit, which runs whether you are home or not. The same is true of the hot water heater, the security system and various little things that are in every home. That’s the point though. They are in every home. According to the electric company, my good neighbors shut off their HVAC system before leaving the house.

The truth is, this report is most likely just nonsense. I was out and about today and asked three neighbors if they got their report card. All reported that they were horrible people, squandering the nation’s precious resources on silly things like their porch light. The amusing bit was the one neighbor had been out of town for three weeks. He actually turned his HVAC unit down to the minimum and shut off all of his lights except one, which was on one of those timers to make it look like he was coming and going.

Now, the electric company has no incentive to encourage conservation. They get paid by the kWh so they would very much like all of us to leave our homes lit up like airports. It’s good business for them. Most likely, there is some rule that the government imposed on them, that requires them to encourage conservation. Rather than be honest about it, they made this farcical mailer they send to everyone each month. Some portion of the my electric bill includes the $3 of cost to them for sending me this page full of lies.

Of course, institutional mendacity is a feature of the managerial state. The people tasked with lecturing me about my electric use most likely assume I don’t care or that I don’t believe them. They have to know that what they do has no purpose, but you can be sure they come to every staff meeting armed with the same phony-baloney charts and graphs they send me every month. Perhaps at some level, the pointlessness of it all is a small comfort to them. An irrelevant liar is better than a dangerous one.

Regardless, you have to wonder if the proliferation of nonsense is slowly undermining the purpose of the managerial state. A generation ago, the organs of authority could rally the people to a cause. There were plenty of skeptics, but most people were willing to trust the authorities. Today, the default assumption is that everything from official circles is a lie until proven otherwise. It’s something James Burnham could not have envisioned. The fungus of managerialism that grew over the state is slowing draining it of its life.

53 thoughts on “Electric Lies

  1. The big number you are missing is 143,
    It takes 180 BTU’s to take a pound of water from 32 degrees to boiling point.
    It takes 143 btu’s to take a pound of water at 32 degrees to a pound of ice @ 32 degrees.
    The energy required to make the phase change is quite astonishing,

    The freezer is the biggest energy hog in most houses.

  2. You should consider yourself lucky that your utility only wastes money on fliers to encourage conservation. Here in the People’s Republic of Mexifornia, they’ve jacked up the rates so high that you MUST conserve. If you go into a big box retailer at night, the lights are so low that you’d think they are closed. Like Europe, CA is trying very hard to make electricity a luxury good.

  3. I am also fanatical about turning off lights and appliances not in use, room to room, do not excessively wash clothes, dishes, or shower, do not turn on outdoor lighting unless going outdoors at night, (rare), and my power bill is astronomical in both the summer and winter.

    I will admit the HVAC that serves the top two floors of my house and the heat pump that serves the bottom floor do get a workout, especially during those hot months, which here in the ATL area mean basically Mar/April-Oct/Nov.
    A power bill around $650-700 is avg for the year, $850 is on the high side. That’s ridiculous.

    I plan on my next house being about 1,200-1,500 sq ft., an apartment/condo, or maybe a mobile home out in the woods. That is, if I can sell a good sized 20 yr old house in my area,
    (and not lose money), which is filling up w/all new developments.

  4. There is some sense to this. The market rate for electricity bought from power plants varies wildly throughout the day. Electricity at 3:00 am when everyone is asleep with the lights off costs power companies essentially nothing. At 3:00 pm when everyone’s air conditioners are going at full blast power is far more expensive.

    The electric bill sent to consumers doesn’t breakdown the difference in cost. They get charged for total use at some rate that allows the power company to turn a profit. If they can propagandize you to use less electricity at 3:00 in the afternoon while charging you the same rate per kWh, they really will make more money.

  5. I cannot urge everyone strongly enough to NOT sign up far any ‘smart meter’ that allows the public electric utility to remotely shut off your A/C or water heater to ‘balance the load’ during peak demand periods.* Our betters cannot be trusted with this power in the future. The opportunities to politicize who gets shut down for how long are just too obvious. And, given governmental bodies demonstrated incompetence at network security, it is easy enough to foresee getting the inevitable ransom-ware email from Estonia offering to let you restart your A/C in the middle of an August heatwave for a price in bitcoin.

    This warning applies to all the other ‘wired house/network of things’ stuff too. For example, it blows my mind that millennials think nothing of allowing the ever-more-abusive tech oligarchs to listen in to their homes 24/7 via Seri, Alexa, etc., just in case they have some whim that really must be satisfied this very instant.

    I can see a future scenario for the ‘wired home’ where network security becomes a protection racket. “Nice little freezer-load you got der. Be a shame if it got all spoilt cause somethin’ happen ta it, electric-wise, if youse knows what I mean…”
    ___________________________________
    * Load shifting or load shedding during peak demand periods is a concept that has been around for a long time. It made some sense during during the late-great time of high public trust in competent institutions. But for it to actually work as designed, the shedding must be involuntary during times you need that load the most.

  6. I worked for a power company for a couple years. Of course we wanted people to use more electricity. Electric cars are the industry’s dream. But we played the game of winking and pretending to care about efficiency to keep the regulators happy.

    The boards that regulate electric utilities (and their political bosses) are made of some truly stupid people who believe crazy stupid things – like it’s possible to make sufficient electricity to power a city with pollution, carbon, or nuclear power. We just tried to humor them while making our guaranteed return on investment.

  7. I get those annoying things every month and according to it I am more inneficient than the average as well as my neighbors. The former I can beleive but not the latter, and like you I don’t give a shit anyway

    • But unfortunately that demand drop is not evenly distributed. Few years ago had an interesting meeting with a group of “strategy guys” from one of the major northeast utilities. They were trying to game out various consumption vs capital investment scenarios. One of the issues was flat to falling overall consumption (thus revenue) but increasing lumpiness in demand. For example, in the average old NE suburb, the primary transmission capacity has been largely the same since the 1980s-90s. In a wealthy neighborhood, have 8% of residents buy a Tesla and plug it every night and the local grid overloads. Now you are looking at replacing 4k primaries with 8k primaries…in every last mile, then upgraded the local transformer capacity. Add in the necessity to plug every person that installs expensive, subsidized solar back into the grid, but with production at unpredictable times…and your revenue is flat…well you can see what a clusterfuck this becomes for entities that have operated as government monopolies.

  8. How old is the electrical grid now? Probably older than you. Take a good look at the wires and telephone poles. They were probably there when you were a kid. The electric company is a monopoly. Has to be. Only a complete circuit to and from all the houses will actually make this thing work. Kind of like those old fashioned Christmas lights where one bulb burning out made the whole thing not work.
    The population is rising steadily as new dumb voters are being bussed in and paid by your dimes to steal more money from you “legally”. As capacity holds barely steady and consumption keeps climbing, these Rich Buzzards either use some of that stolen money of yours to upgrade or put meter at your house limiting your usage to save their wallet AKA the Planet. The Planet Uranus appreciates your gullibility and cooperation. We do it all to screw you up the Wazoo. Do not question the wise ass of your Uranus Asteroids.

    THE FUTURE DOES NOT BELONG TO THOSE WHO INSULT THE PROPHET MARVIN. Screwing you up your Wazoo since 1913 you Antisemitic Racist U.

  9. “The same is true of the hot water heater, ”

    Apologies for being a bit of a dick but it’s just water heater. Pretty sure it wasn’t hot before it got to the water heater. 😎

    Cheers

  10. I remember reading about a plan implemented by these companies to rate peoples’ energy consumption with either a smiley face (meaning they were good conservationists), a neutral expression (they used the average amount) or a frown, meaning they had not heeded the sagacity of the Goracle and were making Gaia cry. The people who implemented this dumbed-down image-based campaign reported that it had an immediate effect on consumption rates, that people who got the frowning face immediately turned around and started using much less energy. This was supposed to be cause for celebration, or vindication of the program, but for me it was just, like the Milgram Experiment, a chilling instantiation of the principle that humans are herd animals and can be easily herded to do almost anything. Most of the high-achievers I knew in school were especially sociopathic in this regard. You see that with this cretinous kid from the Parkland School shooting, David Hogg; I know that face. It’s a “give me a gold star” face, a “rat on other students to make teacher happy” face.

    • What I like about the power companies is how they encourage you to conserve and use less, and so you do. Then they say hey get solar and you can run your meter backwards and lower your bills, so you do, and your bills are (may be) lower. Then a bit later they come back with with all this conservation and all this backwards meter stuff now they are not making enough money, so they have to raise the rates. And they do. It’s all part of the game…….

  11. “Assuming they have other things, those bulbs are off most of the time, so they can have enough juice to run the fridge and maybe charge a cellphone a few times a month.“

    You would be stunned at how very little electricity the devices around your home require in a typical use. You could run you 50” plasma TV for 10 hours on just 1kWh of juice, for example.

    • Yes, indeed. Even freezers and refrigerators are amazingly efficient these days. I was surprised when I used a Kill-A-Watt device to measure it. Pleasantly surprised. Only about 120 watts while running (both fridge & freezer), and about 1-1.5 KWH per day (depending on time of year and thus temp in house).

      Based on that I didn’t have any qualms getting a second freezer.

  12. My usage for 2/18 was 289 kwh. It was cold and I used a space heater(1300 w). My average is about 150 – 170 kwh/month.

  13. I would like to see Al Gore’s bill. Or Hillary’s. Those two between them have a carbon footprint larger than a small town. Do the managers of the managerial state get sermonized?

    • No, they receive indulgences just as those of a different religion did before the Reformation.

  14. Zman, are you in a rent situation that covers water usage? If not check the add ons for that. In my most recent bill the total for water and sewage from Washington SSC in southern MD was 27% of the total. The rest was bay restoration, $16.48 to keep my records and send me a bill and “infrastructure investment” it replace the money they shoved in their pockets when they should have been maintaining the pipes. It seems I have to be a good person and care about the planet whether I want to or not.

  15. Java Man, Piltdown Man, now Regulatory Man. RM loves to make you do things that you wouldn’t normally do or would find annoying. For 100 years the light bulb was the emblem for the good idea. Then they banned the good idea and forced you to buy those crappy curly bulbs that didn’t fit and gave off a weird color light and took 5 minutes to brighten up and were filled with a neurotoxin and were generally annoying. The annoying part was a bonus for RM. Remember when low flush toilets came along? They didn’t work worth a crap (literally) and took several flushes to send those logs on their way. People were salvaging old toilets from junk yards of smuggling them in from Canada. RM loves to annoy you. And just talk to anyone who uses a newer gas can if you want to hear about annoying. My Mom’s new washing machine uses less water but has no level setting so it has to do an extended analysis before beginning. And the lid locks (probably because some moron fell in once) so if you find that one more thing to throw in you have to stop the process, wait for the lid to unlock, throw it in and start over. Sometimes it can’t seem to get through with the analysis and has to rebooted. But annoying us is OK because it might save a little water (that I’ve already wasted in the low flush toilet) and as we all know, your time and mine is totally without value.

    • I was going to buy a new washing machine recently, but they all got bad reviews for not even getting some of the clothes wet. An Obama regulation forced the manufacturers to make the washers set the water level automatically. We are too stupid to set low-med-high. So washing machines now need a computer, making them more expensive and less reliable. I bought an old one off Craigs List instead. I cannot remember who said it, but people were more free under monarchies, because a king could only control so much of your life. But the tyranny of those controlling you for your own good knows no rest.

      • “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
        ― C.S. Lewis

  16. Those letters are absolute bull crap. After installing a solar array I still get them, always telling me I am in the middle and the “good” neighbors are using less than me. This even happened when when my net usage for the month was 24kWh. What a joke.

  17. This conserve electricity issue is somewhat related to this “tiny house” thing being pushed on tv. There is a local online forum on the subject of “where can I put a tiny house in our area?” The discussion talks about zoning, etc., as well it should because inevitably these tiny houses will be surrounded by a collection of sheds as the naive owners of these tiny homes realize they are unlivable. Now we can have a favella in every town. This madness just goes on and on.

  18. When they force us to use bulbs filled with mercury that will create a toxic waste zone when they break, and then ignore the entire issue as if it doesn’t exist, you begin to wonder if they are just playing with us, for kicks.

    • A few years ago, I was working at home and there was a knock on the door. I never get unannounced visitors, but I don’t often work from home, so I answered the door expecting to learn that door-to-door salesmen were still a thing. It was two people from the power company. They told me they were offering a free energy audit. I politely said I was not interested and the women actually put her foot in the door, like those old movies.

      She said, “But you don’t understand. It is free and it is good for the planet.”

      I responded with, “I don’t care. I don’t have time for this.”

      She replied with “But don’t you care about the planet?” and I predictably said “No, not in the least.”

      You would have thought I killed a puppy in front of her.

      The best part was I later discovered they had left a box of those awful fluorescent bulbs at my door. It was like some sort of weird offering. I suspect I have been marked as a heretic.

      • Sounds like the Jehovah Witnesses who after you blow them off leave you a copy of the Watchtower.

      • That reminds me of some years ago our electric company offered a similar audit. I had already done the math and took them up on the offer, just to see what they would come up with. There evaluation was if the windows were replaced the payback would be around thirty-two years, added insulation in the attic was over twenty-five years, and insulation in the crawlspace was over twenty-five years. They offered all kinds of contractors to do the work. I couldn’t tell if they didn’t understand diminishing returns or if it was some kind of kickback racket. Needless to say, I left things the way they were.

      • I usually keep a foul mouth and a shotgun near the front door. It works nearly as well as bug spray.

      • I parked my car behind a troop of Johovas’s Witness’ in my driveway . A couple of hours later, they were happy to go some place else

    • We’re still using the stash of old-style 60, 75, and 100 watt bulbs I stocked up on from before the ban. Don’t really know what I’m going to do when we run out.

    • Manufacturers were not making much margin on a pack of light bulbs for $4. Now imagine a pack of LED bulbs at $25. That’s big increase in margin and profits. So you can imagine they signed on to the Green Crusade like Knights just itching to loot Constantinople during the Crusade.

      As always, follow the money. There’s always a plan behind the religious idiocy of the true believers in PC folk marxism.

  19. Reminds me as a boy that my dad thought I owned stock in the local utility company. The only thing he could conclude by my negligence to turn off lights or watch tv.
    Not any more.

  20. FWIW, I have actual usage in a spreadsheet for the past 16 years. 3000 ft^2 house, all electric…averages slightly over 2000 kWh/mo. Haven’t seen any such nonsense from our local utility but they did give us a 0% interest loan to put in a heat pump (to keep us from converting to gas heat, eh) 10 years ago. Plenty of solar power projects around, despite the fact that we have the lowest insolation in the continental US. Keep getting free meal invites for that…need to start collecting.

    • I’m too lazy to check, but I would not be surprised if the figures on the notice are a lie. I have a small place and I find it unlikely that I use the kWh they claim. My bill is about $100 a month on average, including constant AC in the summer. It gets very hot here in Wakanda.

  21. How does it feel I wonder to be a cog in one of these industries? does one feel like any function is served other than getting paid? I’ve 4 young uns and I hope the future holds more for them than just being another tax paying unit of production for our so called betters.

    • There was a time when most people involved in some activity whether it was business, farm, industry, construction had at some point been involved in what it took to do what needed to be done. Due to various things including efficiency, economy of scale and what not it takes less to do more than in the past. One of the difficulties of business is finding something to do with the less than productive.
      What certainly doesn’t help is the people that are supposed to be teaching the next generation are just as clueless. Now there are vast numbers of people that have absolutely no idea of how to even change a car tire. One of the saddest parts of this is so many have no idea of how little they know. Perhaps there is bliss in ignorance, till everything comes crashing down.

      • Saw that in spades during Sandy around here. Ditto again this past weekend with the noreaster. Synopsis of a local FB group discussion:
        “My generator won’t start (with picture)”. “When did you last run it?” “Three years ago” “looks like electric start, did you check the battery” “no” “it’s probably dead” “oh”. “leave fuel in it all that time?” “yes”. “Gas is probably stale and carb is gummed up” “what’s a carb?” Finally some other guy took mercy and went over drained the gas, pulled off the air filter, shot some cleaner into the carb throat, put in some fresh gas + “liquid mechanic” and showed him how the pull start works…. You can imagine what the gun control discussions are like with these people….

  22. Once the government takes over providing a service its a short journey until they are moralizing at you for using too much of it. Somehow Jimmy John’s never complains at me for eating too many sandwiches while I am endlessly sermonized at for the immorality of me using the water / electricity / roads, I pay for.

    Qualitative difference between diluted and full strength managerial state I suppose.

  23. One of the brilliancies of the managerial state was having the income tax paid by most deducted from their paycheck. A similar thing takes place with monthly bills. Very few actually read their bills and see what is going out and where it goes. That works as long as the host can carry the parasites. It will be interesting to see what happens when the parasites have drained the life out of the host and people start reading those bills. As our host has most frequently stated, this will not end well.

    • “One of the brilliancies of the managerial state was having the income tax paid by most deducted from their paycheck”

      Old Satan himself John McCain made a point similar to this that stuck with me.

      When he was duking it out with W in the GOP primaries in 2000 he mentioned liberals and European welfare state fans, saying “There exists this notion that Americans are undertaxed. If Americans had to sit down with their paycheck every Friday and write a tax check to the government, I doubt we’d hear a lot of people saying they’re undertaxed.”

    • Heard Peter Schiff recently remarking how the withholding of the federal income tax was established during World War II. It was easy to sell it to folks back then, because it was for “our boys” overseas fighting for freedom. Schiff said if they had tried that crap during peacetime back then there would have been a revolt.

      The history of the income tax itself is quite enlightening. I’m sure this audience knows that it was sold on the premise that it would only impact the rich, the upper 1%, at around the same time the Fed was established. Yeah, look how that worked out. This is how all the initially small and barely obtrusive encroachments our rulers make upon us eventually play out.

      • Milton Friedman, one of the most influential pro free market economists in US history, came up with the idea while working at the Treasury. He regretted it for the rest of his life, and said it was the worst thing he had ever done in his career.

  24. It’s not that I give a damn about the planet, which I don’t, it’s that leaving lights on bugs me.

    Heh, same here. Had it dinned into me as a kid by my parents, who didn’t believe in paying money to light up empty rooms.

    • My step-daughter, who has a habit of switching lights on in rooms when it is light outside (she hates the gloom, she says) and then leaves them on when she exits, pointed out to me when I complained about this that she didn’t pay the bills so she didn’t have to worry about it.

      How true, I often reflected as I went round turning them off.

      On the subject of conserving ‘tricity, I was supplied a while ago with a ‘smart meter’ that showed me, by the minute, how much power my home was consuming. To be honest, to see how it racked up the money when making a hot drink was depressing. I swiftly consigned it to a cupboard where it remained unlooked at and unloved. It’s one thing to have to pay these bills, it’s another to have a depressing reminder how expensive power is thanks to all the ‘renewable green initiatives’ we all have to pay for time and time again.

      Many, many years ago I recall someone on television saying that electricity from nuclear power would be so cheap to produce they ‘would pay us to use it.’ Yeah, right…

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