The Bay Area’s shelter-in-place orders were just extended through May, and after some odd 40 days of this, you may be worried about what your next PG&E bill is going to look like.

Your home electricity use has likely increased if you’ve got a house full of people working remotely and attending online school. Add to that the rising temperatures (we’ll soon be seeing daily highs in the 80s near our San Ramon home office) and that means the air conditioning will soon be in use.

All of this is a good reason to do what you probably have been procrastinating: An audit of your home’s energy usage.

Here are some tips to help you understand your electricity usage and make changes to save some money:

  1. Complete PG&E’s five-minute home energy checkup. It’s a free personalized assessment to help you analyze how much of your home energy goes to heating or cooling, hot water, appliances, lighting and other uses. You’ll then get advice on changes that might help save you money. PG&E also offers bill alerts, so if it looks like your bill is going to exceed a budgeted amount you choose, you’ll get notified so you can perhaps send the kids outdoors to play and shut off that screen time.
  2. Then take a look at their tips for saving money and energy. PG&E offers more than a dozen suggestions for what to do when it’s hot as well as every day suggestions and cold weather energy conservation tips. A few hot weather tips include: Using an outdoor grill instead of your stovetop; clearing the area around where your air conditioner vents to the outside to ensure the best possible ventilation; and scheduling laundry tasks during the evening.
  3. Consider installing home solar panels. Imagine not having to worry so much about how much energy you’re using at home because your home solar system generates enough electricity to meet 100 percent of your family’s needs — especially in the summer when many of our customers make so much excess energy that they send it back to the grid. (Don’t worry, you’ll get credit for that excess energy via net metering.) Many of our customers tell us they went solar so they could keep the thermostat at a more comfortable level on those toasty summer days in Santa Cruz and the East Bay.

You also might check out this USA Today article for information about certain smart home technologies that might help you better monitor and reduce your energy usage.

For example, the article notes, programmable Wi-Fi thermostats let you conveniently adjust heating and cooling settings on a phone, tablet or laptop, but they can also learn your schedule and automatically optimize the temperature in your home.

If you’re going to go solar, now is the time because the federal Investment Tax Credit, which offers homeowners a 30 percent credit on taxes owed, will be reduced starting next year.

Give us a call at (831) 200-8956 or fill out this form to receive more information. We can easily give you all the information you need virtually using our digital solar estimating software.