Common words and phrases

AC, air conditioner

In general, use “AC.” Also OK to spell out.


Air conditioner


Air conditioning unit

Billing vs. bill

Use "bill period" "bill rate" or "rate" by default, but it’s OK to customize based on the utility’s preference.

Bill period

Bill rate


Counter-clockwise vs. counterclockwise

Hyphenate as “counter-clockwise.”


Energy efficient vs. energy-efficient

Hyphenate when there’s a noun after it.

An energy-efficient furnace

Don’t hyphenate when there’s no following noun.

Make your house more energy efficient

Never hyphenate “energy efficiency”.

Energy efficiency

Energy use vs. energy usage vs. energy consumption

In general, say “energy use.”

Energy use

Energy usage

Energy consumption

Energy vs. electricity

The preferred term is “energy,” unless there’s a reason to specify that it’s “electricity” or “gas.”

Saving energy

Energy-saving vs. energy saving

Hyphenate this phrase when it’s describing something that concretely saves energy.

Energy-saving habits

Don’t hyphenate this phrase when used as a noun.

Tips for energy savings


Capitalize ENERGY STAR and use the ® symbol (in superscript) the first time it appears on the page. Note that “ENERGY STAR qualified” does not have a hyphen.


Gas vs. natural gas

Use “gas" by default (it’s shorter), but it’s OK to customize based on the utility’s preference.

See how much gas you’ve used

Heat vs. heating

Use “heat” as a verb and “heating” as a noun.

How do you heat your home?

What type of heating do you use?

Log in vs sign in

We use “sign in” by default, but either is fine—customize it based on the utility’s preference.

Note: Use as two words in verb form. If it’s a noun, use "login" (no space). Source: AP Stylebook

Sign in to your account

Log in to your account

Peak day

In general, write descriptively and try to get the point across without relying on the term “peak day.”

Join your neighbors in reducing energy use on Wednesday August 18 from 2pm-7pm.

If you need a noun to refer to this, use “peak day.”

This is a peak day alert from Utilco.

Alternative options:

Smart Energy Day

Summer Savings Day

Per, per year

Save $65 per year

Cost per kWh: $0.24

Save $65/year

Pick-up vs. pickup vs. pick up

When used as a noun, it’s one word without hyphens.

Schedule a free pickup

When used as a verb, it’s two words.

UtilityCo will pick up your refrigerator.

Projected bill vs. bill forecast

Use "projected bill" by default, but it’s OK to customize based on the utility’s preference.

Projected bill

Pronouns (you, me)

In general, address the reader as “you.”

In your area

Your energy use

Here’s how you’re using energy

My energy use

Use the first-person voice.

We’re offering a $20 rebate

Rank vs. ranking

In general, use “rank.” Be even more specific when possible.

Your rank

Now you’re the 4th most efficient home.

Your ranking

Step-by-step vs. step by step

If used as a heading, don’t use hyphens (Step by step). When using the phrase as an adjective, use hypens.

a step-by-step guide to saving energy

Smart meter

A smart meter is a device that monitors energy consumption in intervals of an hour or less and communicates that information to a utility at least daily. In industry jargon, this technology is called Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). When writing for users, use the simple term “smart meter.”

smart meter


Tune-up vs. tune up

"Tune-up" is the noun.

You may qualify for a free AC tune-up from UtilityCo.

When used as a verb, use two words. “Tuneup” (one word) is never correct.

A certified contractor will tune up your AC free of charge.

Vampire device

Appliances or other objects that consume energy even when they are turned off or asleep. In general, describe it without the word “vampire.” If you must, be sure the use the word “devices.”


vampire devices


You’re on track, you’re on pace

Avoid idiomatic expressions like these; they’re difficult to translate. For alternatives, check with the content strategy team.

on track

on pace