Lower Your Bill Before Solar
Strategies for Lowering your Power Bill Today
Save Money on Energy Today using the Conservation Strategies Below
Energy Conservation Measures Offered By Planet Solar
Whole House Fan
If you don't have a whole house fan, get one. Have you ever gone outside in the evening, and it was cooler outside your home than inside - yet your air conditioner is still running, and will probably run all night long? That's just NUTS!
Instead, use a whole house fan to cool your home down when it’s cool outside—it uses 1/20th of the power of your air conditioner (170 watts vs. 4,500 watts, or $0.05 per hour vs. $1.35 per hour!). A whole house fan will make the inside of your home the same temperature as it is outside in about 10 minutes. Typically, you will use your air conditioner half as much if you have a whole house fan, saving you hundreds of dollars per year. But the best thing about them is they cool down your attic. During peak summer your attic can remain above 110 degrees well into the night when it's only 80 degrees outside, and that heat penetrates your ceiling and your air conditioner has to fight that heat. With a whole house fan your attic will be as cool as it is outside in about 15 minutes, adding greatly to your comfort in addition to saving you money.
Solar Powered Attic Fans
If you don't want a whole house fan, consider adding a few solar-powered attic fans to your roof. Your attic can get to be over 160F during the summer. These fans will pull out the hot air in your attic which is replaced with cooler outside air from your gable or eave vents. They are temperature controlled, so in the winter they shut down leaving warmer air in your attic to help keep your home warm. They have a small solar built right in and are totally self-powered, so do not add a penny to your electric bill. We are up on your roof already, so why not add a few of these and greatly increase the comfort and energy efficiency of your home.
Under-Sink Hot Water Heater
Do you have to wait minutes for hot water at your kitchen or bathroom sink, dishwasher, or washing machine? With an under-sink small water heater, you'll have instant hot-water, saving both energy and gallons of water. They are very cost-effective and energy efficient. Most people who install them say it's the
best thing they've ever done. With us all having to wash our hands many times
a day due to Covid-19, the water you save really adds up. If you wash your hands with warm water only 5 times per day, you'll save 9,650 gallons per year!
Strategies for Maximizing your Savings
There are a few strategies that can help save you money, whether you have solar or not. We believe that you should lower your electrical usage using conservation methods first (see below), and then Go Solar. Installing energy conservation measures like insulation, LED lights, whole home fans, and more are very cost-effective. Then once you have your usage lowered in a way that doesn't affect your lifestyle, then get rid of the remainder of your power bill by Going Solar. It allows us to design and build a system with fewer panels, saving you thousands of dollars.
One of the key strategies to saving money on your power bill is to use your largest power consumers during the ‘off-peak’ times. California has the highest electric rates in the nation. If you didn't know, the utilities have gotten away from 'tiers' they used to charge, and now charges most customers different rates depending on the time when you use the power, called a 'Time of Use' or TOU rate. For SCE, in summer off-peak is 9pm - 4pm and Peak Rate is from 4pm - 9pm, when you are charged 63% more for power. In Winter, the times are the same, except that you get a 'super off-peak' from 8am - 4pm that is 2 cents per kWH less. So in winter, do all your laundry, run the pool pump, etc from 8am - 4pm if you have SCE. With PG&E its close to the same except even more expensive. The Peak Rate is from 4pm - 9pm year round. However, in summer you pay a medium 'partial peak rate' from 2pm - 4pm and 9pm - 11pm. The best time to run your appliances is from 11pm - 2pm, except in spring you get an extra break from high electricity costs from 9am - 2pm. See more about TOU strategies below.
SCE 'TIME OF USE' RATES for Summer and Winter as of July 2020 (Rate TOU- D-4-9PM)
PG&E RATES for Spring, Summer, and Fall/Winter
Energy Conservation and Time of Use Rates
There are a few strategies that can help save you money, whether you have solar or not. The key is to use your largest power consumers during the ‘off-peak’ times. You the largest energy users are (in order of power demand):
your air conditioner
electric dryer (if you have one)
standard light bulbs
other appliances that generate heat.
We recommend that you run your dishwasher, laundry machines, and any other appliances before 2:00pm or after 9:00pm to maximize your savings, during the 'off-peak' times. This will have a dramatic effect on lowering your electric bill, and you didn't have to buy a thing!
Microwaves are fine to run anytime, because though they use lots of power when on, they are only on for a few minutes. Your standard home heater needs electricity to move the air in your ducts, but doesn't use much power. If your refrigerator was built after 2014, it uses 25% of the power that an old fridge uses, about 200watts or less. Flat-screen TVs (except plasma), WIFI routers, stereo tuners, smart speakers, and other items use very little power.
ELECTRIC ROOM HEATERS / WINDOW AIR CONDITIONERS NEVER use little electric room heaters or window air conditioners! These devices are superpower hungry. Did you know it is actually cheaper to heat your entire home with your built-in central heater than to just keep your toes warm with a plug-in electric heater?! Same with window air conditioners, they are horribly inefficient at cooling. It is better to cool the entire home with your built-in AC. The exception to this are the new mini-split room air conditioners. They are amazingly efficient and have been used for decades everywhere else in the world, though you don't see them often in the US. You can cool a huge living room with about 1,000 watts and a bedroom with 800watts, compared to about 4,000 watts for a standard home air conditioner.
AIR CONDITIONER CONSERVATION First and foremost, change your AC filter at least every three months in winter, every 45 days in summer. A dirty filter restricts airflow more than it seems - it's like trying to drink a thick milkshake through a tiny straw.
Ok, now that we've gotten that out of the way, most homes are well insulated and nearly everyone has a programmable thermostat these days, so make it work for you! Set the temperature on your thermostat to a comfortable setting until one hour before the time of use rate goes up. Then for one hour, chill your home to 4 degrees cooler than your normal setting. Then when the peak rate starts set your temperature to 4 degrees higher than your normal setting, and if you feel a bit warm during that time use room or ceiling fans. Then when the peak rates end, set your thermostat back to where you want it. This can save you up to 30% per month on your power bill! During winter, keep your heat set at 68 degrees and even lower when you sleep, and in summer set it above 77 degrees (I'm downright cold if it's any lower). The difference between 77 degrees and 72 degrees is about $125 per month in a 2500sq.ft. home!
POOL EQUIPMENT For your pool, make sure to run your pool equipment during the lowest power rate times. We recommend running your pool pump for 5 hours a day, and have dozens of customers that have sparkling pools doing so. Most pool services recommend running the pump for 8 hours per day, but they aren’t paying the electric bill.
LED BULBS give off the same amount of light for 6 watts as a standard bulb does in 60 watts - a 90% savings! They use so little power that it won't ever matter if you turn that light off ever again. They also last for about 50 years, so you won't have to change them again. Since 2018 they have been available in varying colors of white from super white to soft white. Color is rated in Kelvin, and you won't be able to tell much difference plus or minus 500 kelvin. A super white bulb is 5,000+ kelvin, and a soft white bulb is about 3,500 kelvin. They can be more expensive than standard bulbs, but if you wait for your favorite big-box store to have them on sale, they are only about $3.50 each. If you use a bulb only a few minutes a day, don't bother changing it. But for landscaping, the kitchen, living room, or any other lights that are left on for hours a day, change to LED bulbs for dramatic savings.