Saturday, August 25, 2007

Net tool helps fix cost of cool

From the Commercial Appeal...

MLGW's 'dashboard' traces usage, gives tips
By Michael Erskine
Saturday, August 25, 2007

If you knew how much that cool breeze inside your home costs on these hot summer days, you just might think twice about cranking up the AC.

With that in mind, Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division unveiled a powerful Internet tool Friday that provides residential utility customers with more details about their home energy consumption.

The new My Bill "dashboard" feature on MLGW's Web site,, allows customers to log on and determine what's causing their monthly bills to increase or decease and offers personalized energy-saving tips.

After answering a few questions about their homes and amenities, customers can see how their energy dollars are being spent, whether it's to pay for cooling, water heating and laundry, lighting, cooking, food storage or other things.

The My Bill feature lets customers compare their current bill, broken down by electric, gas and water services, with previous bills and see what factors have caused fluctuations. They can also compare their usage with homes of a similar size.

The feature also allows customers to determine how much their appliances are costing to operate and identifies ways to save by replacing older equipment with more efficient models. Tips on home improvements are also available.

The idea behind the new online service, according to MLGW spokesman Chris Stanley, is for customers to be able to better track their energy usage.

"This is a way that we can now show our customers exactly where their energy dollars are going, and they can take this information and use it to control their consumption and bills," Stanley said.

The program, which has been in the works since October and has been adopted at utilities across the nation, cost MLGW about $170,000 in development and licensing costs, he said.

The feature is only available for residential customers of MLGW right now. A similar service for commercial, industrial and institutional customers is being evaluated.

The My Bill feature was added Monday to MLGW's web site, though no announcement was made about it until Friday. By late Friday afternoon, about 1,400 customers had already created My Bill accounts.

"People, I think, are becoming a lot more conscience about how they use energy here and how their energy dollars are spent," Stanley said. "This is a good tool to help them with that."

Customers can try out the new My Bill "dashboard" feature at

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