The Low Hanging Electrical Fruit
Redlands, CA – As the debate about the causes of global warming continues, everyone agrees that it’s getting warmer earlier in the spring, staying hotter during the summer and taking longer to get cool in the fall. This phenomenon is keeping our power companies scrambling to provide enough electricity during peak demand times while we search for ways to reduce our ever rising electricity bills.
According to Southern California Edison, 2017 and 2018 are rate transition years under the increase approved by the PUC in 2015. During 2017 and 2018 only two official rate tiers will exist but there is a third “high Use” category as well. There is an option to switch your billing plan to Time of Use, (TOU) now instead of waiting for the automatic switch in 2019 as well but we’ll cover that in a minute.
The first tier, (Tier 1) is a summer/winter baseline as 100% use calculated by average use in SCE climate zones. At $0.16/kWh, the Tier 1 baseline was broadened to accommodate “average” summer and winter electricity usage although recent evaluations indicate actual use in most zones is higher than what SCE is officially calculating. The second tier, (Tier 2) includes 101% to 400% of baseline use at $0.25/kWh and should cover most SCE customers. The third, unofficial tier is a “High Usage” calculation for any electricity used above Tier 2 and is calculated this year at the Tier 1 rate plus an additional cost of 88% of Tier 1 cost. Bottom line, electricity bills will be higher this summer but a lot depends on how proactive you are when it comes to making your home or business more efficient.
Customers should take the initiative to evaluate areas that will save them money during this transition period to avoid “surprise” electricity bills. The easiest way to take the first energy efficiency steps is to focus on what I like to call the low hanging electrical fruit. These steps are some of the ways Pure Gold Solar helps its customers during phase one of our three phase utility efficiency program.
First, as mentioned above, evaluate your current SCE rate and determine if going to TOU early will save money based on use history. This alone could save you up to $500 this year.
Second, if you have not switched your high use lighting to LED now is the time. Removing old bulbs inside and out can save up to 90% and significantly reduce your heat gain inside.
Third, spray clean your outside compressor/condenser; this can add 5% efficiency to your AC operation. Replacing the inside AC air filter and setting your thermostat a degree or two warmer or replacing it with a programmable t-stat could save up to an additional 10% on AC operation.
Fourth, make sure your doors and windows close snugly and if they are not, replace the weather stripping and caulk around any “leaky” areas. This can squeeze another 5% savings from the AC operation. Shading sunny side windows and doors outside will help as well.
Fifth, check your HVAC ducting for leaks, add an attic fan and add some insulation in the attic. Ducting leak repair and additional Insulation benefits year round and an attic fan can keep your ceiling inside 15-20 degrees cooler. This can add up to 20% in additional AC operation savings.
These first steps involve a minimal amount of time and resources and can save you around $500 to $1000 annually on your electric bill, (more if you use a heat pump). Other high return strategies include master bedroom or family room cooling with a portable AC, (www.climax-air.com) combined with a programmable t-stat that reduces central AC operation costs up to 75% and variable speed pool pumps that lower pool operation costs by more than 50%. These are some common sense steps that make a difference in what you pay to the utility companies. Visit the Pure Gold Solar efficiency center at 799 Opal Ave. in Redlands every second Wednesday of the month from 6:30-7:30pm to find out more. Call 909-223-7357 for directions.
Pure Gold Solar helps home owners and businesses in the Inland Empire significantly reduce their utility bills through their three phase, holistic approach to resource efficiency. PGS begins with a no cost utility audit that outlines a sensible plan to minimize utility costs and maximize any investment return. Join PGS and others April 22 at the Barton House, 20 Nevada Street in Redlands from 10am – 4pm for some family fun and to learn about quality of life hacks. Please email; firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.