We Got a Frowny Face

Imagine that!  I opened the mail and the electric company is reprimanding me with a frowny face due to my “energy efficiency rating”.

In my opinion, this is an example of out of control bureaucracy. I’m no math or statistics major but in order to make a comparison, and come to this conclusion, wouldn’t you need just a little more information than how much energy I used.

My closest “neighbor” during this time was a house for sale and part of that time had someone “house sitting” who wasn’t there very often at all.  My next closest neighbor admits she doesn’t cook much.  Another “neighbor” is an elderly lady living in a house that’s probably about 800 square feet, and she rarely cooks.

This little survey is about the same thing as me saying my car is more energy efficient than yours because I buy gas once a month and you buy gas once a week.  Forget the fact that I never leave the house and you may be going to work every day and hauling three kids to various activities.

Think about how much Sharyland Utilities spent to produce this little tidbit of information!  Did every one of their customers get this.  How much paper was used?  What was the cost of the postage?  Are those costs passed along to the Sharyland customers?  Is that efficient . . when really all it tells me is how much power I used, which I already know because I get and pay a bill each month.

I did call about it this morning and the lady said it was a pilot program simply designed to let me know how much power I use.  I already know that!  What I really want to know is “Who thought this was a good idea?  A worthwhile expense?”

About the only information I can figure out from this is:  Someone like me who grows veggies and cans food all summer, thus using a bit more power, is less energy efficient than someone who drives to town often to eat out.

As someone mentioned on Facebook when I shared this, I left one town to get away from bureaucracy (red tag man) and move out in the country in Texas, thinking there’s less “big brother” watching, and then, someone who doesn’t have a clue about making comparisons, sends me a frowny face based on my energy “efficiency”.

It truly doesn’t bother me that we got the frowny face.  We have a programmable thermostat.  We keep our lights of when we’re not using them.  I know we’re energy efficient but it takes energy to can vegetables, keep the house cool with the stove going almost non-stop and water a garden (well pump is electric).  It aggravates me that a utility company can make a decision to do something like this and while I don’t know for sure, I’m assuming all costs they incur are passed along to the customers.  Then they want to inform me about my efficiency.



    • 1.1


      In the summer, we do have some power shortages and I surely don’t mind if they want to help teach us how to conserve power but what they sent gave us no useful information. My complaint is that they’ve spent money, especially mailing it separately and not with our regular bill, and those costs are passed along to us. There’s no accountability — it’s just not right.

  1. 2

    Karen Sutton says

    I can certainly understand your frustration – your posting was so well said, think about sending a copy to the local bureacrats in the position to approve those little pilot programs that cost us money.

    • 2.1


      I did write them but haven’t heard back and truly don’t expect to hear anything. We’re a captive customer base so I don’t think they’re real interested in our opinions.

    • 3.1


      Debra, I love your comment with the frowny face! I wish we lived where we could get more sun onto some solar panels.Too many trees. We have friends and neighbors with solar, and I agree it’s amazing the money they save on utilities and recouped the cost the of the panels within a short time.

      • says

        The length of time it takes to recover your initial cost of going off grid is based a whole lot on the amount you’re paying for power. For those who pay much higher rates in CA, your recovery time is less. We have one of the lowest power rates in the country and the recoup time is much, much longer for us — close to 7 years. Unless we know we’re staying here, and we don’t . . as much as I hope we do stay, and that’s an investment we can’t afford to make without being sure we’ll be here long enough to see it profitable.

    • 3.2

      patti says

      the reason the “power company” pays you is because the government decries that it does. does everyone really think the power company is complaining because people aren’t buying their product? operating costs are the same to them, so if they don’t make a profit by selling their product, rates will have to go up! it’s the people who are paying the cost of those “solar dollars” which are usually bought at a higher than average rate.
      I live in an are that uses primarily hydro-electric and recently the government decried that it not a renewable resource!!??!?? because of that our power company has to pay much more to buy “renewable power” from outside to reach the mandatory level of renewable power that the government demands… talk about government interference!

  2. 4


    You are making good and valid points in your post and it should be sent to the power company customer relations department, maybe someone with good sense will read it. On the other hand if you had a solar system and a windmill producing electricity they would be required to buy from you any you did not use. Mary Ann

  3. 6

    Clare says

    Judy, you’re not the only one who gets frowny faces. My house in Illinois which is serviced by ComEd sends these letters to me quite often. My neighbor on one side is 97 years old and has only one light on and never goes into his basement and my other neighbor on the other side lives in the basement and the only light they use is the tv. I dont think living like that is any kind of living let alone its the electric company’s business how I live. I might as well cut a hole in the ground and live by candlelight. Like you when I leave a room I shut off tv, fan and light if I have one on. They dont take into consideration that we as human beings are all different instead of lumping us all as cattle. They dont have the whole story and act as if they do. Use the effort into sending those letters and postage and the people behind them into cutting our rates.

  4. 7

    Teri Jordan says

    This is an example of why our government is in the trouble it is in today…..spend, spend, spend….the way the USA is going it is a good thing you have all that food canned…..

  5. 8

    SarahB says

    We get those every month as well but they mean nothing. For a family with 7 kids, including 2 teenagers and two pre-teens, we consume quite a lot less than anyone else with as many people in the household. However, according to their comparisons we are WAY higher than our neighbors. Just wait till we get the chicken barn wired! Then again, we have a rental house in the city that never uses electricity (they are never home) and they always get a smiley face. I agree that it’s pretty much a waste of money and time to find the neighborhood statistics in order to “compare” us to each other. The thing I worry about it that they will start to fine us for being more “wastefull” than our neighbors without comparing apples to apples. It feels like a set-up to me or rather a slippery-slope that can degrade to something worse. On that cherry note: how are the “babies” doing… I love the pictures!!

    • 8.1


      Exactly! It’s pointless and it cost money and those costs are passed along to us at some point. It makes no sense to me.

    • 9.1


      The house is only 6 years old so the a/c is 6 years old. Otherwise, the stove, fridges, freezers, microwave — most everything else is a less than a year old. Plus, the electric company has no idea how old my appliances are so . . once again, this document was useless.

  6. 10


    Things like that drive me absolutely bonkers. It usually starts me on a 2-week letter writing campaign. The nanny state is out of hand!

    • 10.1


      Good for you! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who does this. Too often, we see something that’s not right and don’t say anything and I think that’s why things are so out of hand. If more people would stand up . . write and call and demand answers, maybe (or maybe not), we could change things.

  7. 11

    Gail F says

    Obviously, they haven’t taken into account your very small energy footprint since you are growing and canning your own vegetables, raising your own chickens for eggs and meat, etc., rather than depending on those things brought to your local store via over-the-road truck.

  8. 12

    Debbie Rhodes says

    Guess our electric company is nicer we don’t get that. They do have a graph so we can see how our own usage compares month to month and to last year I find that to be good information.. Ours is a private company not run by the government. That said we couldn’t switch companies if we want they do supply for the entire state. And the price keeps going up..just like everything else..

  9. 13


    We got tired of paying large electric bills and mine were far lower then friends/neighbors. Kept air conditioning at 82 degrees and I told the kids to sweat quietly or go to the public pool. Put in solar panels in January 2010, last yearly electric bill was $300 but I still keep the air conditioning set very high. No one says anything to me any more!!

  10. 14

    Nann says

    I just got SIX copies of a message from the IL comptroller saying that my email address is the registered purchasing agent for the Zion-Benton Public Library and “if this message was delivered falsely,” to let them know. It happens to be true, but I didn’t need them to ask me six times. And if it were delivered falsely, why should the incorrect purchasing agent care to let the IL Comptroller know?

    If I were you, Judy, I’d send a copy of the reminder letter that you got to the company CEO. Explain what you told us — your neighbors aren’t using much electricity at all — and you could add that mailings like this one are more annoying than they are useful.

    • 14.1


      I agree with Nann – write the CEO, AND print out a copy of your blog post to boot. Add in a bit that it is invasion of privacy to share personal information. I would complain. Ugh. -Evelyn

  11. 15


    I don’t even open mine any more. I use more energy than everyone in my neighborhood…because I work from home and I am always at home. Most of them are home for maybe 8 hours a day? The first one really irritated me until I started talking to everyone about them…and everyone pretty much gets the same rating…so guess what?? They aren’t accurate anyway. I’m going to go and turn my thermostat up right now and turn on all three of my Christmas trees and leave them on until Christmas…that should really burn my rating up! 🙂 Oh yeah, I use the old bright lights too.

    • 16.1

      Cheryl L says

      Well, sort of……for the time being anyway. Unfortunately, I think we will all see more of this sort of thing. Big brother would like to be able to tell us all what and how much of everything we can use/eat/own, etc. Those of us who, as freedom-loving Americans who want to continue to have these freedoms are going to have to become more vocal in fighting these things that are slowly creeping into our lives and eroding our freedoms. Singularly they each don’t seem like much, but just stop and think about all those little things we have just come to accept. Eventually they all add up to more and more government control. Ok, down off the soapbox now…..that frowny face just caused an angry face reaction from me! Have a great Thanksgiving!!

  12. 17

    Laura says

    Is this utility a private company or part of the government? I’m just curious because in my area the utility company is private, and I see that a couple of people on here have used this post as an opportunity to bash government. If it is government, then yeah, I think it’s a waste of taxpayer money to send out frowny faces. But if it isn’t, why bring government-bashing into it?

    • 17.1


      I don’t see it as government bashing. People are just talking about how these types of industries, including the government are out of control. If this were a grocery store, and I didn’t like their tactics, I could go to a different store. I don’t have a choice about my electric company.

      Folks are frustrated with the government and while you call it government bashing . . I call it an out of control government and some folks are tired of it and simply venting frustrations.

      It should be obvious to all who read my blog that I think the government is out of control and I’m not happy with the spending, debt and lack of accountability. I believe many of my readers feel the same way.

  13. 18

    Micki clemens says

    It’s been my experience that if you use less electricity “they” raise your rates because their revenue is down!! It has happened to me while living in NY. I now try to be careful,but not rediculous. Don’t let it get to you! Micki

    • 18.1

      Jean says

      They’re giving us that line here in Minnesota now. We’re too efficient, and the utility isn’t making enough money to replace aging infrastructure, so up go our rates. Can’t win whatever we do.

  14. 19

    Pat H. says

    There is so much garbage like this out there I have to let my husband censor my mail. LOL This kind of stuff just doesn’t bother him and I go balistic so we compromise to spare my blood pressure. Someone needs a job and comes up with an idea that they can convince some poor dork at the utility company into thinking they are doing something to “help” the environment, or at least look like they are, by hiring him to make a meaningless newsletter or flyer–it is all just blowing smoke. My favorites are the “reminders” from my health insurance company to get procedures done for my own good but in the small print they say they won’t pay for. Aren’t they noble for reminding me I need a $1000 procedure to stay healthy then remind me to be sure and check to make sure I have to pay for it myself?

  15. 20

    Donna S (in MI) says

    I like what our electric company does. It shows our usage from a year ago and percent increase/decrease.

  16. 22


    This is one example of the government sticking their nose in someone’s business. You pay your bill….and not asking taxpayers for help. Gee, what is next for them to tell us how to live??

  17. 24

    Marla says

    I can guarantee that “someone” is making 60K a year just compiling that information that was sent to you and someone tell me just how effecient it that?

  18. 25

    Marie Mann says

    Sounds to me like someone had nothing to do except harrass the consumers.
    Think I would send a copy of the letter to the local newspaper as well as write to the CEO of the company concerned.
    Everywhere in the world too much of this type of interference is happening.
    Here in Western Australia, the power company is now complainting that too many people have installed Solar Panels and therefore the cost of providing electricity to the no solar users has gone up because the solar users are not contributing to the distribution costs.
    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t! Funny world we are living in.
    Judy, please don’t stop blogging to save power, your down to earth take on everything is so grounding, really confirms that we are ‘all alike, under the skin’.

    Marie from Rockingham in West.Aust.

  19. 26

    Connie says

    Ok, this makes me chuckle because I work for a water utility company and we HATE when people try to compare their bills to their neighbor, friend, mother, sister, cousin, or whoever. We will not give averages when people ask. Everyone uses water differently. I hear people say they bathe once a week (gag) others twice a day. Some water their yards year round, others never. Etc etc etc. The most I will do is give them their minimum and explain how it can go up from there. I think it’s bad bad bad to compare.

  20. 27

    Lee says

    Out here, they’ve gone around (and at what cost?) and replaced all the old-fashioned meters with digital ‘Smart’ meters. We could opt out, but we’d incur a monthly cost because they’d have to send a meter-reader out (and they claim this isn’t cutting their work force either). The biggest complaints are that once the SM has been installed, the monthly bills have doubled or tripled, huh? I know ours, though not double, was the highest it had ever been since we installed the A/C a few years back. Supposedly with these SMs you can go online and see if you’re ‘using too much’ and cut back, but had read in their own letters that they could determine even the appliances being used and could with summer heat, cut your cooling if the power grid was getting overloaded. My feeling, yep, Big Brother, Nanny and Uncle EPA all have theirs eyes on us.

    • 27.1


      I imagine when smart meters get here is when we will go off grid. Too much information and too much control in our homes.