How envy could save you money

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New online tool could save E.ON customers money © London Permaculture/Flickr

Customers  can compare energy online © London Permaculture/Flickr

New research has revealed that adults in Liverpool spend more than 16 hours per week comparing themselves to others.

Energy company E.on has partnered with US company, Opower, to launch an online tool that will allow its customers to compare their energy usage with around 100 anonymous homes of similar size and type.

The research revealed that people in Liverpool regularly think about how they compare to other people’s household bills, with over 75% of adults wanting to know how their energy bills stacked up against their neighbours.

Over 19 million adults in the city are ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, which is when adults refer to the comparison of one’s neighbour as a benchmark for social status or the accumulation of material goods.

The most common age for people in Liverpool to compare themselves to others is 27, which is driven by the desire to get new ideas and learn from other people.

E.on believes that the new online tool will help customers understand and change their energy use as it was reported that more than three million people claimed that day-to-day life comparisons made them feel more positive.

Psychologist Donna Dawson is working with E.on to provide them with guidance and advice on the most productive forms of comparison. She said that as long as we don’t stagnate in feelings of self-pity or envy, that we can inspire ourselves to try harder in order to equal and surpass the efforts of others.

A national gender divide was exposed by the research, with women almost twice as likely as men to regularly compare themselves to others, but both men and women agreed that appearance was the most common reason for making self-comparisons.

Donna Dawson added: “Men and women of all ages tend to use others as a ‘blank screen’ upon which to project their hopes, dreams and frustrations which makes others appear more successful than they might really be.

The Saving Energy Toolkit is available to E.on customers and provides an analysis of a household’s energy use, including where and when energy is being used with a breakdown of costs.

About Shannyn Quinn, JMU Journalism