If you live in Southern California, it’s likely you’ve been trying to escape the grueling summer heat the past few weeks with extended air-conditioning use in your homes and businesses, or attempting to escape the heat at the beach.

Either way, you are probably dealing with some high electricity bills due to increased air conditioning usage — the number one driver to higher energy usage and bills during the summer months. And, depending on your air conditioner’s age, technology and efficiency standard, it can increase your energy usage by as much as 30 percent.

During the current heat wave, Southern California Edison (SCE) customers used their air-conditioners for longer periods of time. Yesterday alone the utility reached a peak energy load of more than 22,000 megawatts — enough to power about 11 million average Southern California homes at a point in time.

If you’re an SCE customer who has already enrolled in the company’s Budget Assistant Program, you’ve been notified via phone, email or text that your energy usage is higher than normal and you could be receiving a higher electricity bill this month. If you’re not already signed up, go to www.sce.com to learn more.

SCE also has a number of rebate programs so customers can save money, stay cool, and become more energy efficient. For example:

  • The Quality Installation Program offers rebates up to $2,500 for installation of an air-conditioning system that meets ENERGY STAR guidelines.
  • The Quality Maintenance Program offers up to $200 for yearly preventative maintenance and optimization of your central air-conditioning system.
  • If you purchase and install a qualified portable air conditioner, you can earn a $20 rebate.
  • If you purchase a whole house fan, you can get $35 in cash.

SCE has already called four Save Power Days this summer in which customers can save up to $100 per year on their bills when they reduce their energy usage during the peak hours between 2-6 p.m. During our first Save Power Day in July, more than 400,000 customers earned incentives. For more information: www.sce.com/takeaction.

As always, SCE has some tips for customers to conserve energy:

  • Setting or programming thermostats no lower than 78 degrees.
  • Using electric fans instead of air conditioning when practical: Fans use a fraction of the energy and can make a room feel 5 degrees cooler.
  • Turning off unused lights, appliances and equipment.
  • Avoiding evaporative coolers or humidifiers when an air conditioner is running.
  • Operating energy-intensive appliances during early morning or evening hours.
  • Limiting how often you open your refrigerator door.