A few days ago, I received an unusual thank you note in my mailbox and thought I'd tell you about it. PG&E, my gas and electric company, sent me a note thanking me for being one of 1.5 million residential and 80,000 business customers who had conserved natural gas this past Winter, a time when demand for energy is at its highest. Sweet, right? Well, that wasn't all. Apparently I'm part of its 10/20 Plus Winter Gas Savings Program, which returns additional credit to energy-saving customers, on top of what they've already saved by cutting back on heating use.
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For every one percent decrease in natural gas that I saved, compared to the average natural gas used at my home over the last three years, they gave me a one percent credit, up to nine percent. So if I reduced my usage by 10 percent or more, my credit jumped to 20 percent. A nice surprise, I must say. I appreciate that PG&E is doing its part to keep their gas rates low; they also offer a program which allows customers to balance out the greenhouse gas emissions from the energy they use, and they reward customers with $25 for every energy-smart air conditioning device installed. Although a 10 percent credit isn't the most impressive credit I've ever received, it is something, and we all know that money speaks louder words. So let's hope generous incentives become a trend among other utility companies — that is, until we can all grow up and save energy where we can by our own initiative. What energy-saving programs is your utility company offering? What programs would you like to see put in place?