My wife an I are boggled each month when we read our City of Palo Alto utility bill. First our heart skips a beat at the size of the bill, and then we try to understand the bill. The Utilities Department has to address this shortcoming.
Some observations I have made include:
- The utility usage history is buried on a second page, and does a very poor job showing usage. It makes it very hard to consider any conservation.
- Current usage is the second line from the bottom of a chart on the second page -- huh? Why is this so hard to find?
- The front page is a mismash of units. It is a nice chance to figure out how to convert CCF (100 cubic feet) to Gallons Per Day, but why can't the bill do that.
- The charts and tables are poorly laid out. A user can inadvertently misread units.
- The bill misses enormous opportunities to "smartly" present conservation ideas. This is a stretch, but the city does no what the size of our lot is, and the city does know what the temperature history is. The bill could articulate water usage per square foot of lot, or water usage versus the temperature history. The bill could hypothesize savings based on relamping.
I would welcome the City surprising us. Can they do a utility bill redesign more successfully than the website redesign. Can they control the cost of redesign? Can they set the standard for other utilities with how to smartly use the utility bill information -- for us this bill is the strongest motivator for conservation.
Do other folks agree?