Another heat wave is about to roast Sacramento, with parts of the county expected to top 100 degrees.
Preparing to stay cool indoors while experiencing high temperatures can be expensive and energy-draining. SMUD, Sacramento County’s electricity provider, and Pacific Gas & Electric, which serves most of Northern California, suggests ways ratepayers can beat the worst of the extreme heat without power bills burning a hole in their wallets.
Pre-cool your homes: The first wall of defense against the heat is to blast the air conditioner at the start of the morning or overnight, according to PG&E officials. Afterward, turn off appliances and dial the thermostat up to 80 degrees or higher, and, hopefully, the already chilled house will buffer the heat for the rest of the day. To shrink the electric bill more, swap using central air conditioning for fans which cost 90% less to run.
Raise the temperature on the thermostat: SMUD spokeswoman Lindsay VanLaningham said customers often think they have to shut off their air conditioners completely during heat waves.
“We’re not saying have to turn it off, you just have to turn it up a little bit,” she said. “If you turn your thermostat up by two degrees, you can save five to 10% on your cooling costs.”
Close the blinds: Shutter the windows to block direct sunlight from entering the house.
Switch off the lights: Turn off unnecessary lights around your house to save on electricity. You could also use LED light sources, which produce light up to 90% more efficiently than incandescent light bulbs.
Eat cold meals: SMUD encourages customers to choose cold meals that can readily be prepared without an oven to avoid introducing additional heat into the home. If eating a warmer meal is necessary, then use a microwave or small kitchen appliances which use less power.
Avoid using large appliances during peak hours: P&GE implemented a limited schedule for using large appliances throughout the day to encourage energy saving. Avoid using the dishwasher or other large appliances simultaneously during higher-priced times, preferably running them in the morning.
Leverage a smart thermostat: Even when the house is empty, cooling systems still use energy to maintain a temperature set by the thermostat. A programmable thermostat can save energy by not running when no one is home and help control the heating, ventilation and air conditioning when you are inside.