Whether or not temperatures will hit triple digits remains to be seen, but Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has tips to keep customers from getting burned on their bills this summer.
The energy company's website offers lots of warm weather advice, from using a microwave or an outside grill to cook on hot days instead of cooking in the oven to painting walls in light colors to keep rooms cooler. Small things can lead to significant savings, says Allen Fernandez Smith, PG&E's Manager of Low-Income Programs and Strategies.
"One of the easy ways to save is setting your thermostat," Fernandez Smith shared.
"Set the temperature on your thermostat a little bit higher so that your air conditioner turns on maybe a degree or two higher than you're used to, which still may be comfortable for many folks, they may not even notice it, but it can save money," he continued.
Washing in cold water instead of hot saves customers up to $40 a year, according to PG&E. Using and switching off power strips can save someone up to $75 a year. Many appliances and devices draw power even when they're off, so unplugging coffee makers, cell phone chargers, televisions and entertainment systems helps to avoid unnecessary energy uses. PG&E’s website also has tips for parents with children who will be out of school for the summer using more energy than a household would typically see during the week in order to entertain themselves.
California residents can also avoid higher bills by going to cooling centers that open during the summer when temperatures soar. These centers can be used as an alternative to leaving on air conditioning and fans for extended periods of hot weather. PG&E helps fund such centers throughout the state.
"That's a really great thing that's being used by many families," Fernandez Smith said, adding that some centers even offer transportation.
The summer savings tips are part of the energy company's overall effort to help customers. The company also offers different programs to those who may need extra assistance in paying their bills every month. "We're here to support all of our customers," Fernandez Smith said.
"We understand that California is a very diverse state and our customers are also very diverse with many different needs and we want to make sure we're meeting their needs by providing safe, reliable, affordable clean energy," he continued.
PG&E has a Communities of Color Initiative and works with a network of community-based organizations and faith-based leaders to spread the word and encourage customers who are eligible to apply for the saving programs.
"It's a two-way street. Part of it is us being able to provide these organizations and leaders with tools and tips so that they can share with their communities, but also it's for us to get feedback from them," Fernandez Smith said.
"Are the messages that we're putting out there, can people understand them? Are they in the languages that are necessary? Are they (done) in a way where they're culturally relevant to these communities? We want to hear directly from our customers on how we can better serve them," Fernandez Smith shared.
Online resources include www.pge.com/saveenergymoney and www.pge.com/coolingcenters.