Turn Down the AC and Earn a Few Bucks from SDGE Friday

SDG&E's San Mateo Substation off Vista Bahia in San Clemente. July 13, 2012.

Hold off on that load of laundry.

Friday is the first day this summer when San Diego Gas and Electric customers can get money off their monthly bill by conserving energy between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The “Reduce Your Use” system is set up to reduce strain on the grid during hot spells, especially important now that the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is offline for the summer. Customers can sign up for alerts to notify them of Reduce Your Use days.

Though Friday’s “Reduce Your Use” event is just a test of the system and not a consequence of strain on the grid, users will still save money for their drops in consumption, said SDG&E spokeswoman Allison Zaragoza.

The recently installed smart meters measure electricity use in homes in almost real-time, she said, allowing the utility to reward conserving customers.

During a pilot of the utility’s “Reduce Your Use” program last year, Zaragoza said a sample of 3,000 customers earned an average of about $10 per month in credits, in addition to the money saved by using less electricity.

“It could be as simple as not doing a couple loads of laundry until after 6 p.m.,” she said.

To take advantage of the program, customers should log on to the SDG&E accounts website and establish their account. There, users can see charts showing how much juice their home is drawing.

Customers are credited 75 cents for each kilowatt hour they reduce below their average power consumption. The baseline amount of power is detemined by averaging the customer’s three heaviest usage days from the last five days, Zaragoza said.

“They can go on online as soon as the next day to see how much money they’ve saved,” she said.

Here are some quick tips to help customers save energy at home:

  • Raise your central A/C’s thermostat setting four to six degrees.
  • Run major appliances before 11 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
  • Unplug chargers and power strips.
  • Turn off pool pumps between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.