Many customers breathe a sigh of relief when fall hits with expectations of low bills, only to be surprised by an expected high bill in the winter months. Understanding the causes of your high bill is the first step to lowering it.
The most common cause of high winter bills is the use of a heater. Although controlled by the same thermostat as air conditioning units, most central heaters run on gas, leading to high gas usage and bills in the winter months. The amount of gas used will depend on the size of your home, the efficiency of the unit, and the temperature your thermostat is set at, but it is not uncommon for a customer to use three therms of gas a day during cold months. In December 2023, a residential customer in tier one will pay $2.25438/therm, or $6.75 per day to heat their home. Please remember that gas fireplaces also use a lot of gas, clocking in around .4 therms per hour, or $7 per eight hours of use.
Some people may choose to run space heaters thinking because they are small, they will be inexpensive to use. Unfortunately, any appliance used to heat the air in a room comes at a cost. To put this into perspective, a 1500 watt space heater uses 1.5 kilowatts per hour. In December 2023, a residential customer on a tiered rate plan, in tier two, paid $0.44692/kWh. If the space heater was used 8 hours a day, the customer would spend over $5 per day for the one space heater.
The obvious take away is that reducing usage will reduce your bill. Turn your heater off at night and when you leave your house or change the thermostat to 55 degrees. Close drapes, blinds, and shades to retain the heat in your home. Switch your ceiling fan to rotate in a clockwise direction. On a slow speed, this will pull the warm air away from the ceiling and into your living space. Use down comforters or extra blankets to stay warm at night. Close the damper on your fireplace when not in use. Caulk or weather strip door and windows.
PG&E offers the Energy Savings Assistance Program that can help qualified customers with energy efficiency measures. Qualifications and applications can be found online by visiting our Energy Savings Assistance Program page. We also offer income-based discount programs, CARE and FERA which you can apply for online. If you have a medical condition that requires you to keep your home at a specific temperature, you may qualify for an additional allotment of gas at the lowest price point with our Medical Baseline Program. Additionally, billing and usage alerts can let you know if your bill is projected to exceed a predetermined threshold, allowing you time to alter your usage before a high bill comes your way. If you are unfamiliar with alerts, follow this guide and set up your preferences. Finally, our Energy usage and tips page has an abundance of information on ways to save on your gas and electric bill.