17 Ways To Pay Less For Your PG&E Bill

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

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Katie Overmonds
May 30, 2019

As of April 2019 California utility Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. (or PG&E as most of us know it as) has asked state regulators for another increase in rates and profits, saying it’s needed for wildfire safety and to attract investment as the utility goes through bankruptcy.

The Sacramento Bee reported that the request and a previous one could result in average PG&E customer bills rising more than $22 a month for electricity and natural gas.

If PG&E customers are on par with the average American household, grow by Acorns estimates that you’ll spend anywhere from $2,200 to nearly $4,000 this year on home utility costs like electricity, water and natural gas. An extra $22 per month likely doesn’t come as a welcome addition.

But cutting down the amount of money you spend on those bills each month doesn’t have to mean living by candlelight or sweating through a hot summer without air conditioning. We found 17 relatively painless ways to cut your energy bills and one way that actually pays YOU.

1. Get PAID to use less power once per week with OhmConnect

Have you heard the buzz from your neighbors about 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 (typically on hot summer days when folks across the state are blasting air conditioners and keeping pools cool.)

How it works:

  1. Sign up for a free OhmConnect account.
  2. Around once per week you’ll receive an SMS or email notification letting you know about an upcoming OhmHour.
  3. 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!)
  4. 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. You spin me right round! Run your ceiling fans all year long

When it comes to your heating bill, you make make a serious dent by ensuring you have your ceiling fans rotating clockwise in the winter time. That pushes the warm air downward, allowing for less use of your HVAC system for heat. This quick fix could reduce your heating bills by nearly 10 percent!

3. Upgrade those old windows

Prevent brisk winter drafts, and an unexpectedly high bill, by adding a layer of insulation with storm windows. Not that this one comes with a bit of an upfront cost - windows plus installation can between $200 - $300 each, but you can reduce that cost by installing them yourself. Depending on the type of window you choose to replace, you can reduce heat loss in your home 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. Lighten up! Paint your roof white

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. And you could even start a new trend in your neighborhood!

5. Make Dad happy and optimize that thermostat

The ideal winter temp is 68 degrees Fahrenheit and in the summer it’s 73 — this keeps your home comfortable and your heating and cooling bills low. Trying going up or down one degree at a time until you reach your ultimate goal - you’ll typically save around 3 percent on your bill 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. Before bed, do a nightly energy sweep

Aside from the most savvy of us, who hasn’t been guilty of leaving fans, lights or appliances on at night while we sleep? It’s safe to say we’ve committed this energy crime, but doing so wastes increasingly expensive energy, all night long. 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 - the savings from simply turning everything off can add up quickly. For example, just leaving your laptop plugged in and not on for a year would cost you around $75, according to the Department of Energy. Try turning off your laptop (and other) between uses and watch the savings climb.

8. What are you waiting for? Change those lightbulbs

This one’s a no brainer and if you’re reading a blog post like this one, we’re guessing you’ve already done this. But just in case you haven’t … change those bulbs! 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.

9. Pull the plug on energy vampires

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.

10. Hot tip: Set your water heater at 120 degrees

Save yourself from getting burned - at the tap and on your energy bill! Not only does heating your water too hot create the danger of scalding, it can cost you some serious 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.

11. Be your own energy Sherlock - Do your meter and utility bill match up?

Utility workers make mistakes just like the rest of us, but 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, which can mean you pay more than you should be for power.

Make sure you’re only getting charged for the electricity you actually use 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.

PG&E Customer Assistance Programs

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

PG&E offers many programs that can help you save money and energy. Check out the options:

12. One time energy credit

You can receive a one-time energy credit for up to $300 through the Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH) Program. This program helps you pay for energy when a sudden hardship occurs. PG&E sponsors REACH and The Salvation Army runs the program from 170 offices in northern and central California. Visit REACH (Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help).

NOTE: REACH is available only once within an 18-month period except, in some cases, for the elderly, physically challenged and terminally ill.

13. Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Get heating, cooling and weatherproofing help with Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD) oversees this federal program, run by 48 action agencies throughout the state. LIHEAP offers two types of aid:

  • Help for heating or cooling homes.
  • Help for weatherproofing homes.
  • Certain customers are higher priority:
  • Families who spend a large part of their income on energy.
  • Families with elderly or disabled members.
  • Families with children under age three.

For LIHEAP income rules and a list of agencies, call 2-1-1 or visit 211.org.. Or, visit California Department of Community Services & Development.

14. Budget billing

Even out the highs and lows of your monthly PG&E bills with Budget Billing. With the plan, your bills are about the same throughout the year, even in hot or cold weather. Learn about Budget Billing.

15. CARE Program

Save 20 percent or more on your monthly gas and electric bill by enrolling in the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program. Learn about CARE.

16. FERA Program

Get a monthly discount on your electric bill if your household has three or more people. Enroll in the Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) Program.  Learn about FERA.

17. Medical Baseline Allowance

Receive help if you’re a customer with special energy needs related to a medical condition. PLEASE NOTE: This program is not based on income. Apply for a Medical Baseline Allowance. Learn about Medical Baseline Allowance.

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