A couple of months ago, I told you about some changes coming to the area. As San Francisco Bay Area residents continue to automatically transition to PG&E’s Time-of-Use (Peak Pricing 4-9 p.m. Every Day) rate plan, you might still be a bit hesitant about adopting the rate plan when your county’s turn comes up. To help you, Frans and I thought we could share a bit about our own experience of adjustment when it comes to the use and timing of energy in our home. We could all use more tips and tricks, right?!
PG&E Time-of-Use (Peak Pricing 4-9 p.m. Every Day) Rate Plan — Tips
Honestly, I was fully prepared to wrack my brain to come up with the most ingenious ideas to share with you. But, well, the team over at PG&E already did the major grunt work and compiled several fantastic suggestions which go above and beyond my sad attempts at being innovative. 😛 Even better is the fact that these tweaks are so easy to implement in regular day-to-day schedules.
As mentioned in the above video, these changes don’t require too much adjustment on your (and my) part. Rather, by shifting when we run some of our electric devices to off-peak hours any time before 4 p.m. or after 9 p.m., customers like us can better manage our bill. This is especially true as we move into the summer months and the whole family can pitch into help.
Here are some of my favorite tips:
- Run full loads (save up to $10/year)
The more often you run your dishwasher and washing machine, the more energy you’ll use. The opposite is true as well. Wait until you have enough dishes or clothes for a full load before running the wash cycle.
- Load first, run later
Throughout the day, fill your dishwasher with dirty dishes and get a load of a laundry prepped. Then, hit the “start” button on your appliance after 9 p.m. to run the wash overnight or turn it on first thing in the morning. Since both appliances are near where my daughter sleeps, we start them when we wake up. Oh, and we just discovered that our dishwasher has a “4-hour delay” option. That means we can fill our dishwasher after dinner and have it automatically start when off-peak hours begin. I can’t believe we didn’t realize our dishwasher had this feature sooner!
- Wash clothes in cold water (save up to $15/year)
While some people tend to think that clothes get cleaner in hot water, that is not always the case. In fact, many laundry detergents are more effective in cold water than in hot. The cooler temperatures are less harsh for delicate and dark-colored clothes as well. While I was reading over these tips from PG&E, I was surprised to learn that about 90% of the energy consumed for washing clothes is used to heat water. In most cases, that just doesn’t seem worth the extra energy usage.
- Pre-cool your home (save up to $400/year)
Since many people in the SF Bay Area don’t have air-conditioning, leaving windows and sliding doors open in the evenings and mornings can make those heat waves (around 90°F or so…) more bearable. We are so fortunate that temperatures here tend to drop around those times. Then, as it gets hotter, we close the windows, blinds, and shades to keep cool air inside.
For those who do have air-conditioning, cooling your home normally during lower-priced times allows you to use renewable energy while staying comfortable during peak hours. Try setting your thermostat to 78°F in the summer (if health allows) to lessen how much and how often the air conditioner runs.
- Use a ceiling fan (save up to $25/year)
The worst thing about summer heat is when the air doesn’t seem to move at all and it is just “there,” making you feel like you’re in an oven. I really liked how PG&E described the benefits of using ceiling fans:
“Cut cooling costs and keep comfortable by using a ceiling fan in addition to your air conditioner. With the ceiling fan on, you can raise your thermostat setting 4°F. The breeze created by a ceiling fan evaporates moisture from your skin to help you feel cooler. Always remember to turn off the ceiling fan when you leave a room – fans help to create a wind chill effect that cools people, not the room.”
- Use smart devices
Smart devices, also known as smart home devices, are so convenient to use and can help you manage your energy consumption. Not only can you control your devices (or group of devices) via mobile apps, but you can even create schedules for when and how they operate. We use our smart LED lights and our heating/cooling/purifying fan daily!
- Replace inefficient light bulbs (save up to $260/year)
Speaking of LED lights, if you haven’t already, it is so much better to switch your old incandescent bulbs out for LED light bulbs. These bulbs are about the same cost to buy, don’t get as hot while in use, last longer, and don’t use as much energy.
- Turn off lights and devices (save up to $280/year)
In this day and age, most of our devices go into “sleep mode” when they’re not in use or have an eco- / energy-saving feature to save energy or battery. To conserve even more power though, it would be better to turn devices off completely if you’re not currently using them. Additionally, some electronics can draw energy even when turned off so you can unplug them to avoid unnecessary energy use.
Along the same lines, it would also be good to turn off lights whenever you leave a room or living area. Plus, you might as well take advantage of the extra natural daylight hours that summer brings and keep those light bulbs off unless you really need them.
PG&E Time-of-Use (Peak Pricing 4-9 p.m. Every Day) Rate Plan — Analyze
Whew, that is quite a lot to consider, isn’t it?! To make incorporating these suggestions a little easier, Frans found it helpful to keep in mind the type of energy we are using at any given time. He uses a mobile app that tracks energy consumption in California and how much of it is powered by renewable energy in real-time. It’s pretty cool to see our energy usage in this way and it helps us analyze where we can make adjustments. We feel so much better when we are using solar or wind energy when it’s most plentiful!
Now, it might be possible that you’re totally on-board with these ideas but the times specified in the PG&E Time-of-Use (Peak Pricing 4-9 p.m. Every Day) rate plan just don’t work for you. Well, there are options that might better fit your household’s needs. One option is the Time-of-Use (Peak Pricing 5-8 p.m. Weekdays) rate plan, with peak hours between 5 and 8 p.m. on weekdays only. Or, for those who have an electric vehicle, PG&E has a specialized rate plan for EV owners. Customers can feel free to view a customized rate plan comparison at pge.com/TOUchoice or log in to their account online for personalized recommendations of additional ways to save.
PG&E Time-of-Use (Peak Pricing 4-9 p.m. Every Day) Rate Plan — Questions
Even with all of this in mind, you might have more questions about the PG&E Time-of-Use (Peak Pricing 4-9 p.m. Every Day) rate plan. You might also be wondering when customers in your county are set to transition per the schedule. Don’t worry about that since we’ve got you covered. In the next post, we’ll include an interview with a PG&E representative who can provide you with the answers you’re looking for. Feel free to drop your questions in the comments section!
Don’t forget to visit pge.com/toutransition for more information.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of PG&E. The opinions and text are all mine.