The prolonged extreme heat of the summer can increase energy bills, which is why Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) makes helping customers reduce costs a priority. There are simple steps, free tools, and programs to minimize the impact of summer heat on energy bills. Unfortunately, common misconceptions about efficiency can not only increase energy use but end up costing customers money.
Three Summer Energy Saving Myths
Myth: Setting the thermostat lower will cool a home faster.
Fact: The cooling system provides cooler air at its maximum power when it is first turned on. So, setting the temperature lower will have little or no effect on how quickly a home cools down.
Set thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, health permitting, when home. Three to five percent more energy is used for each degree the air conditioner is set below 78 degrees.
Take advantage of smart thermostats and programable features when available. Enroll in PG&E’s Smart AC Program and receive $120 off a new smart thermostat.
Myth: Leaving fans on when away will keep the home cool.
Fact: Fans move air, they don’t cool it. Leaving fans on when away from the house won’t keep the house cool.
Ceiling fans help cool down people by evaporating sweat from the body. Individuals stay cooler when a ceiling fan is in operation, not the room.
Myth: Closing vents will save energy.
Fact: Though it seems closing vents (registers) in unused rooms could save energy, it requires the system to work harder, use more energy and wear out faster. Closing vents puts backpressure on the ducts being closed which can increase duct leakage.
Additionally, closing registers causes a pressure imbalance inside your home which draws in unwanted outside air through holes and cracks causing the system to run longer to cool the home.
To improve energy efficiency in your home here are steps to avoid bill surprises as the mercury rises.
Pre-cool the home: Use the air conditioner at the start of the morning or overnight.
Unplug small appliances and electronics, like coffee makers and printers when not in use.
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.
Avoid using the oven on hot days: Instead, cook on the stove, use a microwave or grill outside.
Customers can also enroll in Bill Forecast Alerts allowing PG&E to send notifications by email, text or phone if the energy 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. Other programs include Medical Baseline offering a lower monthly rate for customers with certain medical conditions and Budget Billing averaging out energy costs for more predictable monthly payments.
Additionally, eligible customers may be able to sign up for income-qualified programs offering a monthly discount including the California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE) and the Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) Programs. Some customers may also qualify for the Energy Saving Assistance Program offering free improvements to make the home more efficient, safe and comfortable.
For more tips on how to save this summer, visit www.pge.com/summer.