16 Ways To Save Money on Your SDG&E Bill

Don’t pay more than you need to for energy. Check out these tips to shrink your SDG&E bill, and one that even pays you!

Profile picture of the articles author
Katie Overmonds
April 9, 2019

If you’re like the average American household, grow by Acorns reports that you’ll spend anywhere from $2,200 to nearly $4,000 this year on home utility costs like electricity, water and natural gas. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that that can take a big chunk out of your family’s monthly budget.

But cutting those bills doesn’t have to necessarily mean living by candlelight or wearing a parka indoors. We found 17 relatively painless ways to cut your energy bills and one way that actually pays YOU.

1. Get paid to unplug once per week with OhmConnect

Haven’t heard of OhmConnect yet? It’s a free, secure service that pays you to save energy when demand across California is high and the electrical grid is overworked.

How it works:

  1. Around once per week you’ll receive an SMS or email notification letting you know about an upcoming OhmHour.
  2. You unplug unnecessary items and turn down the thermostat for that hour - anything you can do to use less power. (Some committed folks even flip their circuit breakers!)
  3. If you used less energy than you were predicted to, you earn money.

Find out more about the program and see if you’re eligible, here.

2. Change your lightbulbs

The average electric bill is a hefty $183 a month—so every dollar saved counts. Energy Star-qualified CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) light bulbs last about 10 times longer and use 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. The Department of Energy says one CFL pays for itself in energy savings in less than nine months. After that, the savings go directly into your pocket.

3. Swap out your windows

Prevent chilly winter drafts, and an unexpectedly high bill, by adding a layer of insulation with storm windows. This one requires some outlay: windows plus installation can cost $200 to $300 each, though you can reduce that cost by installing them yourself. But depending on the type of window you’re replacing, it can reduce heat loss by 10-20 percent—which can add up to some serious savings over the long run. Heating and cooling typically account for 50 percent of your energy bill.  

4. Run your ceiling fans year-round

When it comes to your heating bill, make sure that you have your ceiling fans rotating clockwise in the winter time. That pushes the warm air downward, allowing for less use of your system for heat. Doing so could reduce your heating bills by around 10 percent.

5. Adjust your thermostat

The optimal winter temp is 68 and summer is 73 —it keeps your home warm and your heating and cooling bills low. Go up or down one degree at a time until you reach your ultimate goal - You’ll typically save around 3 percent per degree.

6. Better yet, upgrade to a programmable or smart thermostat

Programmable thermostats: Using the four pre-programmed settings, which allow you to adjust the times you turn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule, can save you up to $180 a year.

Smart thermostats: These little guys not only let you monitor and control your home’s temperature from your smartphone, PC or tablet —but can help reduce your energy bill too. That’s because these devices can monitor temperature and humidity inside and outside your home, your comings and goings, and tailor heating and cooling cycles accordingly.

Get a great deal on a smart thermostat in the Ohmconnect store!

7. Pull the plug

Unplug “energy vampires,” like your laptop, TV and cable box, when you’re not using them. (Leaving your computer on all day alone costs an estimated $75 a year.) You can make this task even easier by using power strips with an on/off button.

8. Paint your roof white

A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Heat Island Group found that in sunny climates, buildings with white roofs required up to 40% less energy for cooling than those with black roofs. At current utility rates, that means you could save more than $100 per year in cooling costs.

9. Do a nightly energy sweep

We have likely all been guilty of leaving fans, lights or appliances on at night while we sleep, but doing so wastes increasingly expensive energy. To save money, do a nightly sweep through the house to make sure all your electronic devices are turned off before you go to bed. It may be a pain, but the savings from simply turning everything off can add up quickly. For example, just leaving your cable box plugged in and not on for a year would cost you $17.83, according to the Department of Energy. Try turning off your cable box (and other devices) between uses and watch the savings climb.

10. Set your water heater at 120 degrees

Not only does heating your water too hot create the danger of scalding, it can cost you cash. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a heater set at 140 degrees or higher can waste $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses to keep water at that temperature, and more than $400 to bring fresh water up to that high temperature. To save even more money, you can turn your electric heater off or turn your gas heater down when you go on vacation to save even more.

11. Check for yourself - Do your meter and utility bill match up?

Utility workers make mistakes just like the rest of us, and when they make mistakes reading your meter, it can be costly. While you’ll probably notice a big error on your utility bill, you may not catch more subtle errors.

Make sure you’re only getting charged for the electricity you actually used by comparing the meter reading on your utility bill to what you actually see on your meter. If the amount on your meter is lower than the one on your bill, that’s a dead giveaway that you’re being overcharged.

SDG&E Customer Assistance Programs

In addition to the ways listed above, SDG&E customers may be able to lower their electricity bill by taking part in money-saving programs that come directly from San Diego Gas & Electric.

About one-third of SDG&E’s residential customers are enrolled in income-qualified programs that offer bill discounts and low cost/no cost energy-efficiency products and services. These programs help to not only reduce electricity usage, but may also lower the amount customers pay. Check out the options:

12. Subsidized Housing Assistance Relief for Energy (SHARE) Program

If you’re approved for subsidized housing and facing financial hardship, you could be eligible to receive help on your SDG&E bill through the SHARE Program. Funds are available through this program one time per year, per household and the amount is determined on a case-by-case basis. This program is available through December 2019 or until funds are exhausted. For more information about your eligibility, call SDGE at 1-866-463-0070 ir click here to view their informational flyer.

13. SDG&E’s AC Saver (Summer Saver) Program

Similar to OhmConnect’s #OhmHours, with the AC Saver program, you can earn credits on your bill if you help SDG&E conserve when the cost of energy is high. After you sign up, SDG&E installs a device on your central air conditioning unit at no cost. On select hot days, when conservation is needed, they activate the device to cycle your central air conditioner "on and off" for a period of two to four hours.

  • The program runs April through October.
  • During this time, activations may be called up to 80 hours total.
  • These can be called every day of the week (excluding holidays).

14. SDG&E’s Financial help for special energy needs program

If you or someone in your household has a qualifying medical condition or needs certain medical equipment in your home, you may be eligible for more electricity or natural gas at a lower rate through the Medical Baseline Allowance program.  

How To Qualify:

  • You must have a qualifying medical condition or use qualifying medical equipment
  • Fill out a "New Application", have it certified by your physician (MD or DO only) and return it to the address listed on the application. SDG&E  cannot accept applications that have been certified by Physician Assistants or Nurse Practitioners.  
  • The person with the qualifying medical condition  must live at the address on the application.  Their name does not need to be on the bill, but the person whose name is on the  bill must sign the application.
  • The medical equipment must be for home-use only.

Find out more information about the program here.

15.  California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE)

CARE Offers a 30% or more monthly bill discount.  Qualification is based on participation in certain public assistance programs or by income guidelines.

Find out about this financial assistance program here.

16. Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA)

If you're not eligible for CARE, you may qualify for an  18% monthly bill discount through FERA.   FERA is only open to households with three or more people.  Qualification is based on income guidelines.

Find out about this financial assistance program here.

Related articles: