The summer months often bring an unwelcome surprise of high bills for many PG&E customers, particularly in the Central Valley where outside temperatures are well over 100 degrees. The most common cause of high electric bills in the summer is running an air conditioning unit. The more you run your air conditioner, the higher your bill will be. To offset some of this expense, we recommend you turn off your A/C if you will be out of the house for more than two hours. At night, turn your unit up to 85 degrees and use overhead fans to circulate already cool air throughout your home.
While we are discussing your air conditioner, there are some inexpensive weatherization efforts you can make as well. Check your weather stripping and seals leading outside; gaps can allow your cool air to escape. Make sure your air conditioner has fresh filters and around the unit is clear of debris that can obstruct air flow. Finally, adding an awning to your air conditioner can help it stay cooler, meaning it doesn't have to work so hard to cool your home.
The recommended thermostat setting for the summer is 78 degrees, but it is important to acknowledge the impact the outside temperature has on your bill. When it is 110 degrees outside, your unit is working very hard to achieve 78 degrees inside, especially when compared to a 90-degree day. Even energy efficient air conditioners tend to be the highest usage appliance in most homes making it one of the most obvious ways to reduce costs.
A fast and free action you can take is to review your rate plan and run an online rate comparison. If you are on a time-of-use rate, ensure you are limiting your usage during peak hours. If you have a pool, check when, how often, and how long your pool pump is set to run; ensure it is not set to run during peak times. Ensure you are receiving any discounts you qualify for and apply for any programs you qualify for but aren't enrolled in.
PG&E has a free online tool that allows you to track your usage. The Energy Usage Details page will break down your usage hour by hour. To access this tool, log in to Your Account and select Energy Usage Details. Each bar on the graph represents one day worth of usage. You can click on a day and it will open to show you hour by hour usage for the day. If you have taken measures to reduce your usage and want to see if they are making a difference, you can compare the hourly usage from before you made the changes to the usage after the changes. For additional instructions on accessing and using this, read our online guide. Additionally, by logging in to Your Account, you can set up Billing and Usage alerts to receive alerts if your bill is going to be higher than you are prepared to pay.