July 31, 2013 - Extreme temperatures, like the recent heat wave produced in northern and central California, can result in unexpectedly high energy bills.
Because of California's residential electric rate structure, which penalizes higher consumption with higher prices for each kilowatt-hour of energy, extra energy usage could push customers into higher-price "tiers." This means customers could pay up to twice as much for every additional kilowatt-hour it takes to keep that AC running. A customer whose energy use increases 100 percent in one month can easily end up paying 160 percent more—a real shock to the bank account.
As the summer season smolders on, here are a few tools to help customers avoid surprises on their bills:
See Your Energy
If you have an electric SmartMeter™ installed at your home, log onto PG&E's My Energy page at www.pge.com/myenergy. See how your energy use compares to other customers in similar homes and neighborhoods, and how much energy you recently used by the hour, the day, or the month.
Find the Right Rate
Once you know your energy use, make sure you're on the rate that's best for you. Sign up for a balanced payment plan to even out your monthly bills and avoid big swings. Compare rate plans to find one that will lower your bills and, if eligible, apply for discount programs like the low-income California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE) program.
Opt Into Summer Savings
Want to save even more? Sign up for the voluntary SmartRate program, which offers a discounted rate from June through September in exchange for cutting back on electricity usage on no more than 15 hot days each season. Last year, participating customers saved an average of $67 over the course of the summer through simple steps like raising their thermostats a few degrees and waiting until the evening to run washers and dryers. With guaranteed bill protection the first year, customers can't lose money by trying the program.
Now that you're on the right rate, avoid bill surprises by signing up for "energy alerts." Energy alerts notify you by phone, text message, or email when their usage level threatens to push you into a higher pricing tier. (Sign up by editing "Notification Preferences" in My Energy.)
Save Energy (and Money)
Last, but not least, visit PG&E's web site offers to explore dozens of free and low-cost ideas for saving energy (and money) every day. Check out rebates and buying guides that help you invest in more efficient appliances, lighting, and electronics – investments that can quickly pay for themselves in lower energy bills. Discover all the savings opportunities at www.pge.com/homemoneysaver.
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