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PG&E Encourages Energy Conservation with Summer in Full Swing Using Electricity Efficiently Will Help Relieve State's Grid—and Ease Customers' Electric Bills

Release Date: July 4, 2012
Contact: PG&E External Communications (415) 973-5930

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – The arrival of Fourth of July means summer is in high gear, and so is California's electric grid. To help ensure power supplies will match demand throughout the hot season, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is encouraging customers to do their share to conserve energy.

In addition to conservation, utilities depend on "demand response" programs to keep the grid stable during summer months. Demand response programs are voluntary and allow enrolled customers to receive an incentive for reducing their energy use during peak demand times, like weekday afternoons.

The state's grid controller, the California Independent System Operator, does not anticipate electricity supply shortages in PG&E's Northern and Central California service area this summer. However, energy-wise customers can help keep the demand in check. PG&E offers the following energy-saving tips and demand response programs:

Cooling your home or building

  • Set your air conditioner thermostat to 78 degrees or higher when you're at home, health permitting, and 85 degrees when you're away.
  • Setting your AC thermostat 5 degrees higher will save about 10 percent on cooling costs.
  • Shut windows and draw the shades to keep in pre-cooled air from the night and early morning.
  • Have your central cooling duct system checked for leaks. Up to 20 percent of cooled air can be lost through leaky or poorly insulated ducts.
  • Buy an ENERGY STAR® air conditioner if your air conditioner is ready to be replaced. It can reduce energy usage by up to 10 percent.
  • Avoid using an electric oven on hot days. Instead, cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside.

Powering electronics, lighting and appliances

  • Swap out incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient lighting choices. ENERGY STAR® qualified lighting not only uses less energy, it also produces about 75 percent less heat than incandescent lighting, so cooling bills will be reduced, too.
  • Give your refrigerator breathing room: Clean the coils and don't set the temperature too low. The refrigerator should be kept between 38 degrees and 42 degrees, and the freezer between 0 degrees and 5 degrees.
  • Clean the lint from the clothes dryer after every load. Run full loads and use the moisture-sensing setting. This will help save 5 percent on your electric bill.
  • Turn off equipment and appliances—such as lights, televisions, stereos, DVD players and computers—when you're not using them.
  • Use appliances and charge electronic devices in the morning or after 7 p.m.

Demand response programs

  • SmartAC™ is an optional program in which PG&E installs a free device to your central air conditioning unit. On occasional summer days, when demand for electricity is highest, PG&E will automatically signal the device to have the air conditioning unit produce cool air for 15 minutes. For the following 15 minutes, it will cycle the already cooled air, and then your AC unit will make cool air again during the next 15 minutes. This cycle will last no more than six hours. Most customers never notice a difference. Participating customers receive a reward check four to six weeks after the SmartAC™ device is installed.
  • SmartRate™ is a voluntary summer pricing plan that lowers customers' electric rates from June through September in exchange for customers agreeing to a higher rate from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on 15 high-temperature days each summer. The program is a no-lose proposition with automatic bill protection. If the cumulative costs of the first full summer on the program exceed what customers would have paid on their previous pricing plan, PG&E will reimburse the difference automatically on their November bill. As an added incentive, customers who enroll this year and stay enrolled through October 31, 2012, will receive a $25 reward in the form of a Visa® debit card mailed to them.

Customers can contact PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to learn whether these demand-response programs are right for them. For more tips plus information on energy rebates, visit http://www.pge.com/myhome/saveenergymoney/

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/ and www.pgecurrents.com.

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