Save energy > Save money
by T.R. Vierra
Each month, like clockwork, our utility bill arrives in the mail box. We toss it on the desk or wherever bills end up and probably don’t think about it again until it’s time to pay. And even then we focus on the “Amount Due” section and move on to the next bill without so much as a glance at all of the information contained in our statement. Powering our homes and businesses with electricity and natural gas is just something that’s always been – we don’t really have to give it a second thought.
But what if, by thinking about how much energy you use and when, you could reduce the “Amount Due” section on your bill and save money every month? It’s easier than you think.
Understand your energy usage
The first step in achieving an energy-efficient home requires the understanding of where your energy is going. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) offers free online analyzers and calculators so that you can take a quick energy efficiency survey and find ways lower your monthly bill. The website also provides easy energy saving tips that can also help reduce your energy costs. There is a small but growing number of professionally-trained auditors who can come to your home, assess your savings potential, and help you with solutions.
If you’re making home improvements or simply shopping for new appliances, you probably know that energy-efficient products can help lower your energy costs. PG&E also offers rebates on hundreds of energy-efficient products. These include the obvious like dishwashers and water heaters, but also lighting, pool filtration pumps and motors, insulation, and “cool roofs” to name a few. There’s also a handy buyers guide to help you make sound and informed choices about your purchases and improvements.
Get an energy audit
PG&E also provides efficiency tools for businesses. The first step is an energy audit, which PG&E offers at no cost. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star® program offers an Automated Benchmarking Service (ABS); ABS is an interactive energy management tool that allows you to track and assess energy and water consumption of your buildings, assess baselines, and set goals. You can track and report on energy performance, costs, and environmental impact over time for individual buildings and entire portfolios. ABS can help you comply with California Assembly Bill 1103, requiring disclosure of benchmarking data in real estate transactions. Using such tools can also lead to a prestigious Energy Star® label for your building and even earn points toward Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification.
Look for Incentives
You should always seek out products with the Energy Star® label. These products are state-of-the-art and can provide rebate incentives too.Another exceptional resource is the statewide energy efficiency outreach campaign – Flex Your Power, a statewide energy efficiency outreach campaign. Initiated in 2001, this partnership of California’s utilities, residents, businesses, institutions, government agencies and nonprofit organizations works to save energy. The program features an interactive website loaded with tools, tips and resources for residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and agricultural customers as well as current energy news.
With a few simple steps and a little bit of your time – you can find ways to conserve energy that doesn’t cramp your lifestyle or your wallet.
This article was co-written with Jeri Gill, CEO of Sustainable Napa County.