San Diego CA— Ahead of summer, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is offering tips and resources to help local residents reduce energy bill spikes that could occur due to hot weather and an increase in telecommuting and homeschooling due to the pandemic.
At the same time, the company has launched an extensive public awareness campaign to encourage those facing financial hardship to take advantage of payment assistance programs. Since the campaign launched in March, applications for the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program increased by 60% in April, compared to April of last year. Currently, about 317,000 SDG&E customers are enrolled in the CARE program, which offers a discount of 30% or more on monthly bills.
“We recognize this summer could be financially challenging for some of our customers, given the high unemployment rate and the potential for a hot summer,” said Scott Crider, vice president of customer services at SDG&E. “We encourage our customers to take advantage of the many resources available to help them to reduce their energy bill.”
Energy and Cost-Savings Tips
Energy usage tends to rise in the summer along with the temperature. Below are some tips to help customers save money. To learn more, visit sdge.com/summer.
- If you are on a Time-of-Use (TOU) pricing plan, which most SDG&E customers are on, shift some of your energy use to lower-cost hours outside of the 4-9 p.m. peak period. When possible, use heat-generating appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers before 4 p.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Check to make sure you are on the best pricing plan by logging into sdge.com/MyAccount. High Usage Charges do not apply to those on TOU plans.
- When streaming content, choose the smallest device that makes sense for the number of people watching. Game consoles can use 10 times more power than streaming through a tablet or laptop.
- Water heating can be the second largest energy expense in your home after air conditioning. Turn down the thermostat on your water heater a few degrees.
- Check your AC filter every 1-2 months. Dirty filters cause your system to work harder to keep you cool, wasting energy.
Payment Assistance Programs
In addition to CARE, two other energy bill payment assistance programs are available to those who meet income eligibility criteria. More information is available at sdge.com/assistance.
- The Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) provides households of three or more with a reduced electric rate (18% discount) on their monthly bill.
- LIHEAP, the federally funded Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, can provide eligible residents with up to $1,000 in financial assistance toward their energy bill.
Customers who are worried about spikes in their summer bills can enroll in a Level Pay Program to smooth out the fluctuations in their monthly bills. And anyone who is struggling to pay their energy bill is encouraged to call SDG&E’s Customer Contact Center at 1-800-411-7343 to make payment arrangements.
Measures Adopted to Ease Summer Bill Volatility
To make energy bills more predictable, SDG&E successfully petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to eliminate seasonal pricing for residential customers on standard tiered pricing plans (non-TOU). Historically, SDG&E customers have paid a higher per kilowatt hour cost during summer months, June 1-Nov. 1. By making rates consistent year-round, it will be easier for customers to plan and budget for their utility expenses.
SDG&E also successfully petitioned the CPUC to change the timing of the California Climate Credit for electricity customers, so customers will receive the credit in August and September vs. April and October, to help offset summer bills.
In addition, the CPUC recently approved reducing the state-mandated High Usage Charge (HUC) by 30% this summer. The HUC applies to residential customers on standard tiered pricing plans. The HUC reduction will produce noticeable savings for those who use more than 1,000 kWh of energy per month, such as inland customers who need to use their air conditioning for extended periods during hot summer days.
SDG&E is an innovative San Diego-based energy company that provides clean, safe and reliable energy to better the lives of the people it serves in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The company is committed to creating a sustainable future by providing its electricity from renewable sources; modernizing natural gas pipelines; accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles; supporting numerous non-profit partners; and, investing in innovative technologies to ensure the reliable operation of the region’s infrastructure for generations to come. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE). For more information, visit SDGEnews.com or connect with SDG&E on Twitter (@SDGE), Instagram (@SDGE) and Facebook.