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Duke Energy to Cut Energy Waste with Peer Pressure

Duke Energy received regulatory approval this week to offer a novel energy-efficiency program based on a potentially vast but untapped energy resource: one's emotional need to fit in. Later this year, Charlotte-based Duke will begin mailing its residential customers monthly energy reports showing how their energy usage compares with "peers" who live in similar homes. A low ranking among neighbors could be what it takes to lower the thermostat, turn off the lights or invest in getting air ducts cleaned out and sealed. In common parlance, it's known as peer pressure. And it apparently influences electricity-consumption habits just as it shapes taste in clothing, popular music and SUVs. More than 75 utilities in the nation now send these customized shame sheets to some 14 million customers.

9/12 The News & Observer