Lessons from a utility bill
Posted August 25, 2014on:
Today I would like to share three lessons on change management that one might draw from a utility bill.
It may sound strange, but there is one monthly bill I almost look forward to receiving every month. This is my utility bill for electricity, water, and gas.
I do not actually look forward to paying money. I like seeing the comparison table that I get via an e-bill.
This is my August summary. I take some pride that despite having a large apartment, I use comparatively little by way of utilities. The asterisks refer to comparisons with other apartments in my building and the national average based on the size of my apartment.
My household keeps our electricity bill low by using LED bulbs, using energy efficient appliances, rarely using the air-conditioner, and having devices that switch standby devices totally off. I am also a tyrant about electricity discipline.
We keep water waste to a minimum by having low-flow taps and adjusting the WC flow to its most efficient. I am not sure what we do with gas except that it is sometimes more efficient to microwave small amounts of water than to heat it over a stove. It boils down to good personal habits.
I have invested the most time, money, and effort in saving electricity because that is what I have the greatest control over and there are a variety of devices and processes at home that use it.
I have not changed any major appliance since I bought them almost a decade ago, but I got the most energy efficient ones I could then. I put the computing devices on power schedules so they do not run when we are not using them.
I initially had CFL lights (which were energy savers) but changed my often used lights to LEDs (which use even less electricity) despite the high initial cost. I also invested in two devices that prevent standby devices from using electricity (IntelliPlug by OneClick, exact model here).
I found out as much as I could about these devices, tried a few, monitored the results, and bought more when they seemed to be working.
The savings paid off almost immediately. Each month, I get reminded that what I started keeps working. When there are utility hikes, I do not see appreciable jumps.
So what are the lessons that might be scaled up and applied to change management?
First, it is important to invest in the long term. The short term might involve cost (money, time, effort, manpower, etc.) with no clear results for months or even years. But if you have a well-researched and/or proven strategy, you can be confident that it will pay off in the longer term.
Second, you must monitor the effects of change implementation. You must have a constant source of data to let you know that what you are doing is working or not. Objectively collected and analyzed data that yields good results is a morale booster and motivates change agents to keep pushing forward. Data that consistently points the other way is a clear sign to try something else.
Third, keep at it even when things are going well. The worst thing that can happen is to get complacent. Every process can be more efficient or more effective or something can come along to threaten a time-tried technique. It is important to stick to your guns when things do not seem to be going well or know when to switch tactics even if they are.
If you are ahead of the curve, your biggest competitor is yourself. If you want to keep staying ahead, keep establishing new long term goals, monitor your progress, and embrace constant change.