Utility Watchdog in San Diego
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Energy

Windows can account for 10% to 25% of your heating bill. During the summer, sunny windows make your air conditioner work two to three times harder. If your home has single-pane windows (almost half of U.S. homes do), consider replacing them.

Reflective Window Film:Reflects up to 50% of incoming solar heat and 90% of UV radiation light. Decreases cooling costs in the summer. For the average 1,600-2,000 sq. ft. home, it only takes 18-24 months to pay back your initial investment in the film, which has a lifetime of about 15 years. Not recommended for south-facing windows if your goal is solar heating.
Cost: 50¢ to $1.20 per sq. ft.

High-Efficiency Windows: Each single-paned window in your home is akin to having a 6" circular hole installed in your wall. If you have single-paned, aluminum framed windows, you can reduce your heating and cooling costs from 15% to 60% percent, by upgrading to Energy Star double-paned windows. 

Weatherization

You can save 10% or more on your energy bill by reducing the air leaks in your home. If your attic has ample insulation and your home stills feels drafty and cold in the winter or too warm in the summer, you may benefit from weatherizing your home. Here are some tips that may save you money and keep you more comfortable in cold and hot weather.

Get "incensed" about those leaks: On a breezy day, hold a lit incense stick next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches and other locations where there is a possible air path to the outside. If the smoke streams horizontally, you have located an air leak that many need caulking, sealing or weatherstripping. In addition, recessed light fixtures can be a major source of heat loss.
Cost: Almost free

Weatherstripping & caulking: Caulking and weatherstripping are the easiest and least expensive weatherization measures and can save more than 10% on energy bills. If you can see daylight around door and window frames, then the door or window leaks. Check for holes or cracks around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, light and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets that can leak air into or out of your home and seal them up!
Cost: Less than $20

Check windows for worn glazing: The putty-like substances around the panes in your windows can get old and allow drafts to enter your home. Re-glazing can help seal up those air paths.
Cost: Less than $20

The four ways to cut your water-heating bill are to: Use less hot water, turn down the thermostat on your water heater and appliances that use hot water, insulate your water heater, or buy a new, more efficient, water heater and other appliances that use hot water. Lowering the thermostat on your water heater to a setting of 115 o F should provide comfortable hot water for most uses.

Reduce the Flow--Use Low-Flow Showerheads & Aerator Faucets: If you don't have them already, low-flow showerheads and faucets can drastically cut your hot water-heating expenses. Savings of 10-16% of water heating costs.
Well under $20 for most showerheads, a little more for faucets.

Ahhh, a Hot Water Wrap: Wrap your hot water tank with jacket insulation: This is especially valuable for older water heaters with little internal insulation. Be sure to leave the air intake vent uncovered when insulating a gas water heater. Savings up to 10% on water-heating costs.
Less than $20

Energy Star Dishwasher: 80% of the energy used for dishwashing is for water heating. An Energy Star dishwasher can save up to 20% on water- heating costs. Use the air-dry setting or turn the dishwasher off after its final rinse and open the door.
$200 to $500

Solar Water Heater: If you have an unshaded, south-facing location (such as the roof) on your property, you should consider having your water heated by incident sunlight. For information, see our Renewables section.
$200 to $5000

Energy-Star Clothes Washer: A front-loading, Energy Star clothes washer uses up to 50% less energy than a standard washer. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half. And remember, your spin cycle uses large amounts of energy; so, skip the second rinse unless you really need it.
$500 to $1500

In addition to rebates from the utility, the Carlsbad Municipal Water District, City of Del Mar, City of Escondido, Helix Water District, City of Oceanside, City of San Diego, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, Otay Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, City of Poway, Ramona Municipal Water District, Rincon Del Diablo Municipal Water District, San Dieguito Water District, Santa Fe Irrigation District, Sweetwater Authority, Vallecitos Water District, Valley Center Municipal Water District, and Vista Irrigation District offer a $125 applicable voucher on approved clothes washer models. Call 800-986-4538 or click here for more information.

High-Efficiency Gas Water Heater: An efficient gas water heater can help you save up to $35 per year. Lowering the thermostat on your water heater to a setting of 1150 F should provide comfortable hot water for most uses.
$200 to $500

Pools & Spas: Pumps and motors that keep pools and spas operating should be upgraded to more efficient models that use half the horsepower. You can also receive a credit if you switch to filtering during off-peak hours, outside of 12 pm to 6pm.
$400 to $500

And while you're at it, consider installing a low-flow toilet. It won't save you money on your water heating bill, but will decrease your monthly water bill!

Many small appliances around your home may have a continual readout displayed. For instance, VCRs, coffee makers, stereos and similar products will likely have the time or station continually showing/playing even if the appliance is not being used. This type of energy usage, though small, can add up over time. Put VCRs, stereos, computers and other smaller appliances that tend to remain on even when not being used, on the same power surge protector strip. This way, one switch can turn off all of these appliances quickly and easily. This also helps to protect those appliances from power surges if a rolling black out should occur.  To see how much electricity many small appliances use and what they cost to run per hour click here.

If someone in your home is dependent on a medical appliance, you may qualify for a reduction on your utility bill with the Medical Baseline Allowance program.

A UCAN member recently purchased a watt-meter (available in many electronics stores) to measure the "phantom load" of various appliances. This usage indicates how much electricity appliances consume by just being plugged in but not in use.

About UCAN

UCAN has represented the interests of San Diego County utility customers since 1983. UCAN focuses its efforts on the rates and services of San Diego Gas and Electric Company, telecommunications utilities and the City of San Diego Water Department.

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