By Lisa Ogle

Earning the title “Energy Nerd” probably requires a little dedication and skill. 
John Spiess, a Bluebonnet member in Welcome, said his family sometimes calls him that because of his concern about their power usage. Fortunately, he has a handy, free way to help him keep tabs on his household consumption: the Energy Tracking Tool on
The feature lets members see how daily patterns and weather affect their bills, down to the hour. The tool is available to any member with an online account. As soon as they log in, their energy-tracking data is available. 
In February and March, we encouraged members to check out the data-rich tool and then share what they learned. Those who did were entered in a giveaway of four “smart” Wi-Fi, remotely controllable thermostats. 
The winners, drawn at random from among all participants, were Denise Pardo of Martindale, Laurie Craig of Manor, Spiess and Abby Carr, an employee of VeriTrust, an information services company that has an office in San Marcos.
Here are some members’ comments, which may inspire you to use the tool, too.
  • My plan to reduce my energy consumption is to complete the replacement of incandescent bulbs, check the seals on my doors and windows, and turn off my computer when I'm away. – Cheryl Cato
  • We plan to unplug down to the basics (fridge and freezer) and take readings each hour as we add on. And compare the new $10 bulbs with the others. – Cassie Griffin
  • I am going to make it a point not to turn on every light in the house when we wake and to unplug appliances after we finish using them. I am going to wash oversize loads instead of several small loads and sleep in layers of clothing and blankets so that we don't use the heater as much. – Denise Pardo
  • As soon as the weather permitted, we've been opening windows to allow the cool spring breeze to fill our home. It's been nice to see the usage go down dramatically! – Josh Owen
  • We first started using the Energy Tracking device to help cut cost and stay within our utility budget. In doing this, we switched to all CFL bulbs, made sure our appliances were Energy Star rated products, replaced our AC unit and invested in rechargeable batteries to use in some electronics instead of using electricity. – Daphne and Emmitt Glass
  • I was amazed at how much the temperature affects energy usage for the day. It just goes to show you heating/cooling are major energy hogs. I also like how detailed you can get on this tool, even drilling down to how much you used at a certain hour of the day, and how much that cost you. – Laurie Craig
  • I discovered that my cost per day doubled or tripled on real cold days and chalk it up to turning on the emergency heat when it drops below freezing and especially when it is raining. – Steve Pyrczak  
  • It is great visual aid to lecture kids to leave the thermostat alone and cut the TVs off at night. – Paul Goll
  • The Energy Tracking Tool told me that that ham I heated in the oven cost more than if I would have served it cold and that the washing and drying of clothes is more costly than I thought when electric is considered. Rugs now go outside to dry. – Louise Scott
  • I probably look at it daily just to see how much electricity I used the day before. Love to see what energy was used by checking the tool on those days that I am washing/drying clothes. – Connie Clements
  • Realized that when we are not home we use electricity by things we leave on. No more! – Paula Donald
  • We have learned to turn down our "hot water" heater, especially since warmer days are upon us now. – Don Nixon
  • My boss purchased the lock boxes and thermostats for all locations that have the programmable features.  He watches to see if there are any spikes and will let our staff know if he sees issues. – Abby Carr, VeriTrust
  • We are adjusting our temperature during work hours to see if it improved our cost and energy usage.  We are also using the tracking tool to monitor it daily versus when the bill comes in and it’s too late. – Tammy Reed
Thanks to all of those who participated in our Energy Tracking Tool contest. Keep your eyes open for more giveaways throughout the year promoting the convenient tools on
Learn about the Energy Tracking Tool here.  
Have a tip to add regarding what you’ve learned by using our Energy Tracking Tool? Send it to Lisa Ogle at

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