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PG&E offers advice to spend less on energy this hot summer

Photo: Jesus Rodriguez / CC BY 2.0 via MGN Online

A number of things can be creating high energy bills for folks in Kern County this summer.

Katie Allen, a spokeswoman with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., said 50 percent of energy costs can be attributed to the cooling system.

"Any small change you can make there, you can potentially see a big savings on your monthly energy statement," said Allen.

She suggested leaving the thermostat at 78 degrees, and each degree up from that can save a residents $85 a year.

When leaving a home, Allen suggested customers leave their thermostat at 85 degrees.

"Obviously, health permitting, if you have pets or other things in the home that you need to set your thermostat at a certain temperature, please do that. Also, it depends on the energy efficiency of your home and the size of your home," said Allen.

In order to increase the energy efficiency of the home, make sure to seal cracks in the inside and outside of your home to reduce air flow. Another step to reducing costs is to clean air filters once a month.

"That will increase the energy efficiency system greatly of your cooling system. It could save you $45 of annual cooling costs," said Allen.

Turning on the fan, and increasing the thermostat can also reduce energy costs. But, if leaving the home, make sure to turn the fans off.

"A lot of customers say to me, 'I leave the fan on to keep the house cool when we are gone.' Fans actually just move air, they don't cool it. So we suggest turning off the fans when you're gone. It's basically just wasting energy," said Allen.

Try and unplug items like laptops and shut down computers when not in use. Customers can save $105 a year just by clicking "shut down," instead of "stand by."

"Those are called vampire appliances. That's costing you money. It may be a minimal amount, but when you add that up, it can increase your energy costs, so go around and unplug everything that's not in use," said Allen.

Another way to increase energy efficiency is to keep the air-conditioning unit in the shade and maintain air conditioners by having the system checked every year. This can save customers around $50 a year.

After looking at the cooling system in the home, Allen suggested focusing on lighting. She says switching to LED lights can save customers $10 per a light bulb a year.

"LEDs consume 75 percent less energy than traditional light bulbs, so changing out maybe one or two is going to save you some money," said Allen.

Also, don't forget to turn off the lights. This habit can save $45 a year. Another, lighting tip is to close blinds and curtains to avoid light from entering the home and to avoid any cool air from leaving the home.

By doing this, customers can save $60 a year.

If you are a PG&E customer, a consultant can come to your home and identify areas where you are wasting money and how you can save money. This is a program offered through the Central Valley Home Energy Tune-Up Program.

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