Utility Watchdog in San Diego

Energy Conservation - Heating and Cooling

Make sure your appliances and heating and cooling systems are properly maintained (ie: filters changed, ducts tested for leaks, appliances cleaned for maximum efficiency and seals tested for leaks). Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills.

Remember, close your chute: We mean your chimney flue. When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper tightly closed. A chimney is designed specifically for smoke to escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes--24 hours a day! Keeping the damper open is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
"Texas" air conditioner: If you're sweating to death during the daytime this summer, keep a rotating stock of water-filled gallon containers in your freezer (this will also help your fridge run more efficiently). Put the frozen gallons in a large tub or basin and place a fan behind the tub, aimed at yourself. This is cheap evaporative cooling, folks. For the cost of running your fan, you can stay nice and cool.
Cost: Free

Keeping cool at night: An old trick for staying cool on hot nights is to sleep in a wet t-shirt or under a wet sheet. As the water evaporates throughout the evening, you'll stay cool without running the AC unit.
Cost: Free

Shade trees & vines: Plant trees or shrubs to shade air-conditioning units - but not to block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun. Shade trees planted in front of west-facing windows can also cut down on the amount of heat that gets into your home during the summer. Carefully positioned trees and vines can save up to 25% of a typical household's energy used for heating and cooling. The Dept. of Energy predicts that just three trees, properly placed around the house, can save an average household between $100 and $250 in heating and cooling energy costs annually. Trees can also deflect winter winds.
Cost: A little more than $20

Programmable thermostats: You can save from 15% to 75% a year on your heating and cooling bills without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat. If you have an older home that doesn't have a setback thermostat, you can usually replace your existing wall thermostat with a setback model in a single morning. Only Energy Star-labeled models qualify for utility rebate.
Cost: $50 to $80 - Rebates: $20 per unit

Radiant barrier: Thin, reflective film insulation can reduce air conditioning costs by at least 20% if used as an attic radiant barrier to reflect 97% of the radiant heat. It also helps to keep hot air inside the home during the cool, winter months. Companies that sell radiant barriers include:
Cost: $20 for 32 sq. ft.

Air conditioning & duct testing: It's a good idea to have your air conditioner and ducts tested, tuned up and sealed to ensure they are running at top efficiency.
Cost varies

Room Air Conditioner: If you're in the market for a new room-sized air conditioner, look for these
Energy Star models which will allow you to qualify for a $50 rebate from the utility.
Rebate: $50

Room Air Conditioner Trade-In Rebate: Now that you've decided to purchase a new room air conditioner, you can get an additional $25 rebate for trading in your old one by calling the Appliance Recycling Center of America at 800-599-5795.
Rebate: $25

Insulation: Increasing your insulation to up to R-38 can reduce heating costs by 5-25%.
Cost $300 to $800 Rebate: 15¢ sq. ft.

Solar Space Heating: Usually referred to as "radiant heating," a solar, gas or electric hot water system can also be used to provide indoor space heating by running the heated water through baseboards or radiant floor-heating pipes.
Cost: Expensive

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.