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Thermostat tyranny: Technocrats use 'social pressure' to condition Americans' behavior

Special to, September 19, 2022

Corporate WATCH

Commentary by Joe Schaeffer

Reports out of Europe highlight how the climate change hysteria is clearing a path for more Big Brother control of ordinary citizens’ lives.

As WorldTribune reported Sept. 11, the Swiss government has enacted regulations that allow for the fining and jailing of citizens who turn their thermostats above 19 degrees Celsius – 66 degrees Fahrenheit – this winter. Scofflaws could face up to three years in prison, along with heavy fines.

The temperature is being set for similar actions in the U.S. in the not-so-distant future. As with many a technocrat scheme, the ground has been slowly tilled for several years now.

Informing on one’s neighbors appears to be a key ingredient. As the coronavirus social fiasco proved all too well, most especially in the donning of masks in public, there are plenty of Americans who will be eager to play along.

A 2016 article in Popular Science spelled out the technocratic plan to induce similar behavior when it comes to energy use:

By now, most of you likely are receiving those energy efficiency reports in the mail from your local utility company — the ones with the colorful bar graphs that show you how your energy use stacks up against your neighbors. This isn’t an idle “FYI’’ exercise, but a carefully designed strategy aimed at encouraging you to cut back on the power.

The approach is grounded in social science research, based on the belief that if you find out your neighbors are doing the right thing, you will want to do the right thing too. “This isn’t about pushing or prodding people into a choice, but informing them about a choice,’’ said Robert Cialdini, professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University.

Left unstated but hovering over those loaded paragraphs like an elephant in a balloon is the motivation to act if one finds out their neighbors are doing what is deemed to be the wrong thing. A Harvard Business Review 2019 article on that same 2016 study is equally creepy. As with the COVID mania, existential crisis is front and center:

Last November the U.S. government released a report detailing the devastating impact of global warming for the U.S. economy: they predicted that GDP would shrink by more than 10% by the end of the century if nothing was done to reduce rising temperatures.

The report makes clear that a significant reduction in energy consumption is needed to help meet critical temperature thresholds....

The [Home Energy Report] is essentially a simple 3-bar graph called the neighbor comparison. It shows recipients how much energy they’re consuming, how much energy “efficient neighbors” consume, and how much “all neighbors” consume. It also rates them on how they’re doing in terms of energy reduction. The graph depicts a “social norm” by communicating how others like them behave –– and challenges them to do better if they’re falling short of the neighbors.

Maoist China had similar programs to “encourage” citizens not to “fall short of their neighbors.” Its madness went on to include children denouncing their parents. “The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Minnesota is a nonprofit advocate for Minnesota’s utility consumers. CUB was formed in 2016 to advocate for affordable and clean energy and consumer protections in utility service,” the group describes itself on its website.

A Feb. 22 CUB Minnesota post openly uses the words “social pressure” to describe these neighbor comparison items on utility bills in America today:

One of the most consistent questions we get at CUB energy consultations is “Who are those neighbors that I see on my bill that are using significantly less energy than we are?”

Many utilities have added a section on their bills or online portals that are comparing your monthly energy usage to that of your neighbors. These charts usually show how much energy an average neighbor uses and how much energy your energy efficient neighbors use. This is followed by how much energy you use.

The goal of the program is to use social pressure to encourage people to reduce energy usage. But who are these neighbors and how does the utility determine who to compare your household to? Comparisons are determined based on similar households within a close proximity, usually within a few mile radius, to your home. So, while it is a neighbor comparison, you may not be directly compared to your next door neighbor. Home characteristics include what type of heating is used, occupants, home size, and building type (single family, apartment, townhome…). Some of this data is collected from public record and some is based on what your utility knows about you. If you are an Xcel Energy customer, you can update your home characteristics to ensure the utility is comparing you with a similar neighbor by going into your online portal.

It should not be surprising to see that the California Bay Area was presenting the case for this back in 2010:

"A lot of people don't know how their energy use compares to their neighbors. Once you have that information, then you can decide whether or not you want to do something about it," Joyce Kinnear, marketing manager at Palo Alto Utilities, said.

Approved by the City Council in May and financed by stimulus funds, the personalized Home Energy Report will be distributed to around 20,000 participating account holders, who will receive it with their bill every two months. Such reports, offered by 27 utilities across the country, compare properties' metered energy use based on approximate square footage according to county records and the kind of heating used, if that information is available.

The article at Palo Alto Online made note of citizens delighted by the program:

Some residents were delighted to find that they weren't poorly ranked, including a resident in the neighborhood who sometimes works from home, Harriet Chessman.

"I thought I was doing much worse," she said.

The report encouraged her to consider more efficient appliances.

"I definitely felt it to be a good motivating tool. It's one more nudge in the right direction," Chessman added.

Even those on the other end of the spectrum thought the report encouraged them to think about conserving energy.

"I didn't take in the report negatively," Bob Ryan said. "I knew that we had a high bill, and we've been thinking about it.

"It could even stimulate some competitive juices," he said.

Anyone who paid the least bit of attention to the outrageous social curbs cruelly inflicted on Americans in the name of health and safety during the coronavirus hysteria can grasp how easily this corrosive program can be rolled out in the name of “saving the Earth.”

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