If you liked how hot it was last summer, you will love this summer. The National Weather Service is forecasting another scorcher.
You would think that would be unwelcome news for Larry Richardson, who lives in Palm Springs, where the average daily high in July tops 108 degrees. But he’s not worried.
The retired tax professional stays cool and cozy in his 2,800-square-foot, ranch-style home even on the hottest days — and saves money too — all because of his own energy-savings efforts and two Southern California Edison (SCE) summer incentive programs.
“I tell people all the time they should do it,” he says.
Richardson, who has a trained eye for unnecessary expenses, launched a personal energy-savings crusade years ago after realizing he was spending a lot of money on electricity.
Over the years, he has painted his house with ceramic-insulating paint, put hay around the exterior walls to provide additional insulation, bought an energy-saving refrigerator and installed shutters on new energy-efficient windows.
His efforts allowed him to be comfortable in his house so he could take advantage of SCE’s Summer Discount Plan and Save Power Days programs. He saved almost $400 on his electric bills last summer. And he did it without breaking a sweat.
“If I have to be uncomfortable, it’s out of the equation for me,” he says.
Richardson first signed up for the Summer Discount Plan, which targets air conditioners, one of the biggest energy-users in a house. Under the program, customers allow a remote-controlled device to be put on their air conditioner’s condenser. A transmitter sends a signal to the device which lets SCE turn off the air conditioner for up to six hours at a time to reduce system demand or when wholesale energy prices spike.
The “Maximum Savings” option can earn customers up to $200 in billing credits from June through September. For a little less savings — $100 for the summer — customers with a ground-level air conditioner can push an override button to opt out of the air-conditioning cutbacks five days per year.
A second “Maximum Comfort” option lets customers earn up to $100 in credits during the summer by allowing SCE to cycle their air conditioner off 15 minutes of every 30 minutes up to six hours a day. If they choose the five-day override option, they can save $50 for the season.
As of last September, about 315,000 SCE customers were enrolled in the summer discount program. They averaged $160 in total savings over the four months. The savings are determined by the tonnage of the air conditioner. Richardson has two air conditioners that total 6.2 tons which boosted his savings to $267 for the summer.
To take full advantage of the Summer Discount Plan, customers must sign up and have the remote-controlled device installed on their air conditioner by June 1. While you can still sign up for the program any time, savings from enrollments after June 1 are prorated.
“It’s a good way for customers to save money,” says Patrick Riley, SCE’s program manager for the Summer Discount Program. “When you see a $50 credit on your summer monthly bill, it’s like ‘Wow, that’s great.’”
About 380,000 customers are signed up for SCE’s Save Power Days program, which can save you up to $100 per year. This program doesn’t require any special equipment and gives customers more flexibility on when they participate.
Under the program, customers are asked to cut back on energy use from 2-6 p.m. on designated Save Power Days. Customers earn billing credits — 75 cents per kilowatt-hour saved — based on how much their energy is reduced compared to the three highest-usage days for the previous five days during the same 2-6 p.m.
For instance, if you typically use 10 kilowatt-hours a day during 2-6 p.m. and reduce it to 5 kilowatt-hours on a Save Power Day, you will earn a $3.75 credit. Cutting back usage is voluntary, but you can only get the credits if you are enrolled in the program.
To participate and earn bill credits, customers sign up to receive notification the day before a Save Power Day. Customers choose their preferred method of contact: phone, text message or email.