Archive for Monday, December 7, 2009


Paper trail: Lawrence residents switch to electronic billing to save on environmental waste

December 7, 2009


Online billing, local providers

City of Lawrence

Black Hills Energy

Westar Energy

Sunflower Broadband


Saving the environment is an easier sell when it’s convenient and saves money.

A recent study found by switching to electronic billing, customers and businesses can significantly reduce paper usage. Electronic billing means that customers no longer receive paper statements, nor do they mail checks for bills such as credit cards, student loans, mortgages and utilities. Customers receive and pay their bills online.

The study, commissioned by PayItGreen, found that per year, each person who switches to electronic billing saves 6.6 pounds of paper, avoids producing 171 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, avoids releasing 63 gallons of wastewater and saves 4.5 gallons of gasoline to mail paper items on average.

That’s the equivalent of planting two tree seedlings and letting them grow for a decade or preserving 24 square feet of forestland.

PayItGreen is a nonprofit organization that educates businesses and consumers about the environmental advantages of electronic billing. It’s paid for by financial institutions, financial industry service providers and businesses.

Lawrence resident Claudia Dozier has been using electronic billing for years.

“I pay all of my bills online; I don’t get anything paper through the mail anymore. It’s easier, I don’t have to write checks, it results in me not getting tons and tons of stuff in the mail,” Dozier says. “It just makes it simpler.”

Dozier says it’s a combination of the convenience and paper savings that got her to switch. She also likes not having to take the time to shred all the mailings from companies, too.

The numbers for the environment add up quickly. If 2 percent of U.S. households switched to electronic billing per year, it would save more than 15 million pounds of paper, preserve more than 181,000 trees, prevent more than 143 million gallons of wastewater from entering the environment and eliminate 390 million pounds of greenhouse gases, according to PayItGreen.

Those environmental benefits may or may not translate into financial savings. A person with 20 bills a month can save more than $100 a year in the postage, checks, and fuel needed to mail payments, according to NACHA, The Electronic Payments Association. But convenience fees can be associated with paying via credit card online, so check with individual providers.

More people have the ability to switch to electronic billing now. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 63 percent of adults had home broadband internet access as of April this year.

For now, Lawrence resident Brooks Hanson says that he still handles most of his bills the traditional way, writing out checks every month and either mailing them or dropping them off at local offices. That’s about to change, though.

“I’m an old-fashioned guy. I get all my bills in the mail. I can sit down at one time and do it all at once and know it’s done,” he says.

But Hanson plans on spending time out of the country, and it’s the accessibility of online billing that’s getting him to switch, he says. He doesn’t know about the environmental impact of electronic billing, but after learning about it thought it was a good bonus.

“Now I can look up anything I want, and not worry about having someone else taking care of it for me,” he says.


Julie Jacob 8 years, 6 months ago

Agreed. I really like electronic billing.

So when is the City of Lawrence going to give us the option to NOT get a statement? Since I can look up my billing online, why must I still have to get the paper version? Seems like a waste of money to me.

Danielle Brunin 8 years, 6 months ago

Totally agree. I signed up for and get an online statement, but still get a paper statement. What a waste! Oh, and what's with the fee to pay online? I can see the fee being necessary like ten years ago, but paying your bill online has to be cheaper for the city than returned checks and processing costs.

meustace 8 years, 6 months ago

Did you know that the fastest growing use of energy is by the IT sector? The total IT energy cost in the UK is greater than the arline industry and in Germany it is estimated that the IT sector uses 10% of the county's energy requirements. 60/70% of all pcs are left on all the time - just so we catch that 'environmentally friendly' ebill and the energy equivalent of an email with a 400k attachment sent to 20 people is buring a 100watt light bulb for 30 minutes! The problem is that people are just not aware of the true cost of electronic communication. So saving paper does save energy but the alternative may use more! And, by the wat, it has been shown that companies prefer ebilling. It's cheaper for them and people don't find their bills so easy to check!

Kat Christian 8 years, 6 months ago

I pay most of my bills online, however, the ones I do not pay are the those who charge an extra fee to pay online in that case I'll send a check thank you. So sick of this nickle and diming to death. There should NOT be a fee to pay online. Also I'd rather receive a bill so I have a manuel document to confirm my payments and charges. Its a matter of trust anymore. Businesses are so greedy that I'd rather have it documents on paper online is too easy to manipulate. City of Lawrence isn't even set up to receive online payments so I was told anyway. LOL

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