Misleading (Inaccurate?) Energy Report From My Utility

I received an energy report from the company that supplies natural gas and electricity to the homes and businesses in my area. I'll be giving them a call in the morning.
It has my account number on it and shows the exact dollar amount that I've spent for electricity over the past 12 months.
They compare the first 9 months of 2013 to both my usage and cost in 2012, and they compare my usage to "similar, more efficient homes in my neighborhood". In other words, in 4 of the 5 graphs and charts that they provide, they appear to be using my exact numbers, not some generic figures.
However, there is one chart with these words in the description:
"In the past 12 months, you spent $XXX on electricity. See where your electricity dollars are going."
Next to that wording they show a circle graph with my exact figure in the middle and colored sections that match the colored bars of a bar chart. Since my exact figure is included in the middle of the circle graph, it's easy to assume that the circle and bar chart are based on my exact usage.
Appliances and Lighting 71% Water Heating 21% Cooling 5% Space Heating 3%
Following those charts they suggest ways to reduce electrical usage, including lowering the water heater temperature to 120*.
Here's the problem: I have a gas water heater. How can 21% of my electricity be going to Water Heating if I have a gas water heater? How can lowering the WH temp lower my electrical cost?
Now, they do include a disclaimer at the bottom of the report that reads:
"Your energy bills and savings are estimated based on your energy use and U.S. Department of Energy benchmarks." That said, the words they use next to _my_ actual cost are "See where _your_ electricity dollars are going."
My issue is that if one part of the report is inaccurate, or at a minimum, misleading, it casts doubt on all other parts of the report. How can I assume that anything is correct when I know that at least one section of the report is inaccurate?
Sure, my monthly costs year over year might be accurate, but my usage split and therefore my savings projections can not be.
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On 1/19/2014 10:09 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

And exactly how does this affect the price of tea in China? As you say, the report does say the percentages are based on "benchmarks". It's of academic interest at best for any given customer unless that customer happens to be the one who is "Mr. Average".
It's not changing your usage or bill; find something more useful to complain about.
--


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But that's my point. There is only one section of the entire 2 page report that appears to use an "average" number. Everything else is specific to me and my numbers, and even that one section implies that the chart is based my numbers since it includes my exact cost in the chart and appears to break it down by type of usage.
That's my only complaint.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

You just compare average to your specific consumption. You have gas water heater so that number does not apply to your house. Our bill just track consumption of power, gas, water by bar graph month to month. There they show average numbers so I can compare to see if I am using more or less than average. I don't see any problem there. Oh, one more thing they track my solar panel tied into grid energy production figures to show how much credit I got..
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On 1/19/2014 11:16 AM, dpb wrote:

I think it's a foolish program of the utility company, and they should be embarassed by whoever started it.
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On Sun, 19 Jan 2014 16:09:15 +0000 (UTC), DerbyDad03

These are just guess based on prevalent statistics in your area.
--
A: Yes.
Q: Does that happen with short messages too?
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I am aware of that. The issue I have is that they include my exact cost number with the chart and they use the words ”See where _your_ electricity dollars are going." They don't say "See where _the average person's_ electricity dollars are going."
Every other chart in the report is based on my exact numbers, not averages. Month over month cost from year to year, month over month usage based on kilowatt-hours from year to year, etc. This is the only chart that appears to use averages, yet it uses my exact 12 month cost and says "_your_" energy dollars". That is incorrect.
Granted, the disclaimer at the very bottom of the report, in the small print, mentions the word "benchmark" but the only section that that could apply to is the chart I have an issue with, since they use the words "_your_ electricity dollars" not "benchmarked electricity dollars".
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On Sun, 19 Jan 2014 17:17:32 +0000 (UTC), DerbyDad03

It's not worth reading. Bottom line. PR.
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On Sun, 19 Jan 2014 11:45:27 -0600, Vic Smith

And it certainly isn't worth obsessing about.
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A: Yes.
Q: Does that happen with short messages too?
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I promise not to obsess.
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On 1/19/2014 2:57 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

I'll try not to be OCD about it.
I'll try not to be OCD about it.
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On 1/19/2014 2:42 PM, CRNG wrote:

I got something similar, a couple days ago. Had a bar for how much electricity I'm using to heat water. In my own experience, zero. Well, I guess I do microwave water for hot choc, but not 18% of my electric bill.
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p.p.s ..or something to discuss on a.h.r.
Oh wait, you said "taking a dump". Sometime it's hard to tell the difference.
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In article

most people I know don't "take a dump" but rather "give a dump".
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On Sunday, January 19, 2014 12:17:32 PM UTC-5, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Just for the record, from the situation you described, I agree, it's very misleading and could lead to people who don't know any better spending money trying to fix the wrong problem. Think of some elderly person that doesn't have the basic understanding of issues that you pointed out, like the WH and then calls up a company, gets sold a $1000 water heater thinking it's going to greatly reduce their bill, etc.
I also don't know where you live, but how could "space heating" be just 3% of your bill? What exactly is "space heating"? Is it the electricity used by the furnace? If not where is that? Under appliances? And if it includes the electricity to heat the house via gas furnace, oil, heat pump, whatever, how could it be just 3% of the total usage over 9 months? Certainly not in most of the real world. Looks like totally useless, misleading and potentially harmful BS to me.
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Thanks for the support.
(Needed More Lines So The Post Would Go. Didn't Feel Like Snipping)
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wrote:

they're on. Fridge is a power hog, but being 2011 can't be that much.
I wish that graph would take out the FIXED cost they slap on, instead of amortizing it in some unknown manner over the detailed costs. You can't change that value no matter how hard you try. For example if you took out 3% completely, your bill would NOT drop 3%, but more likely approx. 2% becausee that fixed cost would just get redistributed. I guess they don't want you to lose your incentive to save, actually your saving saves them money and keeps the Utilities Commission off their back, because the voters aren't complaining too much to them.
Or, your utilities could do like happens here...Every time there's a breeze about electricity costing too much in the valley; we suddenly have a power outage. About two hours, not long enough to ruin all the food, but just enough to make you feel the 'panic' and shut up, because we all NEED that power and like gasoline are willing to pay ANY price no matter how the companies arrive at that price. It has to be 'what the market will bear' because in California at the coast where oil comes in and is refined/stored and due to supply should be cheap, costs far more than way inland in other states where the oil companies had to pay to ship the product to. Hey, how did I get to talking about oil/gasoline prices when we started out with a chart from utilities company? Uh, nevermind.
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On 1/19/2014 11:09 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

The local electric utility has been doing the same thing. Reason being they obviously had some sort of screw up. October bill was a whopping $135, November, $80 something, December was 'zero', in fact they say I have a credit (got an attaboy for that one)! January's bill should be a hoot.
Most things are natural gas at my place but was remodeling the main bath and had to depend on an un-heated powder room off the breezeway. Cold weather came around and so was using an el-cheapo electric heater to keep things from freezing. So the outsized bills didn't surprise me too much, figured its just another bill to add to a total bath demo.
Thought about sending a few a cents for December (on-line bill pay) just for giggles but never got around to it.
LMAO, John
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On 1/19/2014 8:09 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Wow, you're the first person I've heard of that actually looks at those reports.
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