As the state prepares for a heat wave that could send temperatures soaring in parts of Northern and Central California this week, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) encourages customers to take steps to conserve energy to avoid bill surprises as the mercury rises.
According to PG&E’s in-house meteorologists, temperatures are forecast to begin climbing today and result in widespread triple-digit heat across the interior valleys Friday and Saturday. In the Bay Area, temperatures are expected to rise into the 80s and 90s and multiple spots along the coast could warm into the 70s and 80s.
As homes across the state crank up the air conditioning to battle the high temperatures, this can put pressure not only on the grid but also on energy bills as air conditioning is one of the biggest drivers of energy consumption in the home that can increase bills quickly.
PG&E encourages customers to take simple and inexpensive steps to minimize increases in their monthly energy bill this summer while keeping the comfort inside their home.
At the same time, customers can also enroll in Bill Forecast Alert, an optional Energy Alert that allows PG&E to send you a notification by email, text or phone if your bill is expected to exceed an amount set by you. This free and easy tool helps customers better manage their monthly energy bill and gives them time to reduce their home’s energy use before the next statement arrives.
In addition, thousands of income-eligible customers in PG&E’s service area could save 18% on their monthly electric bill by enrolling in the Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) Program.
The FERA program gives discounts on electricity bills to income-qualified households of three or more individuals, but thousands of eligible customers have not yet signed up for the program and are missing out on significant savings. Some may overlook FERA thinking it only applies to families, or that income qualifications are the same as a similar monthly 20% energy discount program, California Alternate Rates for Energy Program (CARE). In fact, any income qualified household that does not qualify for CARE may be eligible for FERA as it has higher income guidelines.
Energy saving tips
Pre-cool your home: The first wall of defense against the heat is to use the air conditioner at the start of the morning or overnight. Afterward, turn off appliances and dial the thermostat to 78 F degrees or higher when home, health permitting. Every degree above 78 F represents an approximately 2% savings on cooling costs.
Shade the air conditioner: Keep outside AC equipment shaded to keep the system cooler, while ensuring the air flow isn’t blocked. Also, keep the area around the AC system clear and free of overgrown vegetation or other items that could impact equipment efficiency.
Use ceiling fans: Ceiling fans circulate cool air, taking some of the burden off the AC system, and cost 90% less to run. However, remember to turn fans off when leaving your home. Fans move air, not cool it, so they waste energy if left on when no one is at home or work.
Change air filters regularly: A dirty air filter makes the AC system work harder, which uses more energy.
Close window coverings: Keep blinds, drapes and curtains closed to help prevent the sun’s rays from heating the home.
Turn off unnecessary lights: Be sure to turn off lights when leaving a room. Lights emit heat and can cause the AC system to work harder.
Avoid using large appliances during peak hours: Don’t use the washer, dryer or dishwasher during higher-priced times. Hang laundry outside. Take advantage of late sunsets and warm evenings to bypass your dryer and let your clothes air-dry.
Avoid using your oven on hot days: Instead, cook on the stove, use a microwave oven or grill outside.
For more ways to save at home, click on PG&E’s easy-to-use energy-saving checklist and pge.com/summer.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.
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