$500 Monthly SDG&E Bill (How to reduce?)

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Submitted by poway_seller on January 26, 2009 - 10:34am

I'm trying to figure out just how in the heck my SDG&E bill can be $450-$525 per month. Here's the background, perhaps if others list their bills I can see if mine is "normal" or if I've got problems I need to research more

2 adults, 2 dogs, 1 toddler
5500 sq feet, but does that really matter? (Only use lights in rooms where we are)

- 1 large pool w/ 1hp motor(filter runs 5 hours per day)
- All recessed lighting (30% CFL, 70% standard flourescent). Maybe 120 lights in house (average 6-10 per room)
- 1 GE Monogram fridge/freezer
- 1 wine fridge
- 1 beverage can fridge
- Electric Washer/Gas Dryer run every two days
- Wall Mounted A/C with Heat Pump run 12 hours/day in kids room
- Split level air run in master (550 sq ft) usually 8 hrs/day (wife has allergies so needs to run A/C)
- 2 PCs left on hibernate mostly
- 52" LCD runs about 5 hrs day combined (have other similar TVs but off most of the day)
- standard DVRs, Apple TV, radio, other small electrial devices)

What else am I missing? I don't see how this can all add up to $500/mo.

Submitted by UCGal on January 26, 2009 - 10:50am.

Yes the total sf matters. Unless you have a large part of it closed off to HVAC you are paying to heat/cool 5500 sf.

What is your insulation/window quality? Do you have a lot of insulation? Do you have double pane or thermal windows? If it's new construction you'll meet current title 24. But if it's older, there's probably a lot of places you could invest to reduce your energy bill.

Also 3 fridges... Could you move some of the beverages from the beverage fridge to the regular fridge - so that only one fridge gets open/closed a lot?

We've knocked about $10/month off of our bill by changing our habits with respect to power plugs for various devices - cell phones, kids NDS's, etc... We only plug in the charge when it's in use. (We used to leave it plugged in - but disconnected from the device when not charging.) We also unplugged the things that don't get daily use but in their "off state" where really on, waiting for the remote signal... this included our dvd players, one of our stereos, the kids wii. (I only let them play it on the weekend for homework reasons. I'm a mean mom.)

Submitted by flu on January 26, 2009 - 11:09am.

powned.

Mine comes out to be able $150/month. But to answer your question, which is more the gas portion or the electric?

Submitted by leucadiarenter on January 26, 2009 - 11:19am.

don't run the washer/dryer or dish washer during typicall business hours 8-5 weekdays, electricity during these times is about 4X more expensive.

Submitted by poway_seller on January 26, 2009 - 11:21am.

Electric is by far the biggest portion.

"Yes the total sf matters. Unless you have a large part of it closed off to HVAC you are paying to heat/cool 5500 sf."

We have 3 levels, each has it's own central air system, but NONE are used. In order to cut costs over long term we've added separate room air conditioners/heat pumps (the ones that go through the walls) in the kids and guest bedrooms), and for the master we have installed a split level air system just for the master (all doors closed). So we're not heating/cooling entire floors, just rooms that have their system on.

How much would you all estimate are being drawn by systems in the "off" position (i.e. computers, big screen TVs, DVD players, DVRs, etc). Would it make "that big" a difference to unplug them instead?

Submitted by FormerSanDiegan on January 26, 2009 - 11:24am.

leucadiarenter wrote:
don't run the washer/dryer or dish washer during typicall business hours 8-5 weekdays, electricity during these times is about 4X more expensive.

most homeowners do not have time-sensitive metering, so this point is not relevant for reducing their monthly bill.

Submitted by AK on January 26, 2009 - 11:54am.

Allergies? Consider a humidifier and/or air filter instead of the A/C.

Submitted by poway_seller on January 26, 2009 - 11:54am.

I went through this enegy audit....
http://energyaudit-sdge.sempra.com

Submitted by FormerSanDiegan on January 26, 2009 - 11:58am.

poway_seller wrote:
I went through this enegy audit....
http://energyaudit-sdge.sempra.com

Did it help answer your original question ?

Submitted by flu on January 26, 2009 - 12:12pm.

poway_seller wrote:
I went through this enegy audit....
http://energyaudit-sdge.sempra.com

Is this $500/month year round or is this just in the summer?

I would suspect the AC is a big utility draw. I almost never run ac, because I get an ocean breeze. When i do run it, my utility goes up *significantly*.

Do you use your oven a lot? Is your fridge always running (if so, why aren't you chasing after it...hark hark hark. sorry, couldn't resist). If your fridge is always running, it means you are probably either setting the temp too low OR are packing the fridge so tight that it's no longer efficient).

Electric. Even if appliances are plugged in, most of them still draw some power, especially all the AC adapters and transformers. However, I'm not sure that would be really that much of a draw. Unless you have some high powered amp that you leave on. Monitors are big draws.

My gas bill is pretty bad in the winter. I have a gas stove top, gas dryer, gas oven, gas water heater.

Submitted by poway_seller on January 26, 2009 - 12:11pm.

This is what it said:

Appliance Annual cost Percentage of total
annual energy bill
Laundry $17 0%
Kitchen Appliances $30 1%
Air Conditioning $123 3%
Home Office $130 3%
Small Appliances $183 5%
Refrigerator/Freezers $404 10%
Pool/Spa $446 11%
Lighting $1,240 31%
Space Heating $1,308 32%
Total $3,881

Underestimates some expenses, but tells me that the POOL is much less an issue than I thought. I need to go home and enter it in FULL detail and then I'll see where it really helps.

Submitted by LAAFTERHOURS on January 26, 2009 - 12:24pm.

I would wager a guess on the pool and 8 hour a day A/C costing you some cash.

I also noted that you didnt mention it but im sure the 1 room dedicated to growing "plants" will push that price up. J/K

Submitted by LAAFTERHOURS on January 26, 2009 - 12:27pm.

The home we rent in 4s is surrounded by pollinated plants. Every tree, and bush has pollen and it starts usually in February through the summer.

I am highly allergic to pollen, so I have to keep the windows shut, otherwise I cant breathe and I itch all over.

Humidifier and Air filter won't work for me, probably wont work for his wife.

Submitted by FormerSanDiegan on January 26, 2009 - 12:30pm.

$123 per year seems impossibly low for A/C costs.

Submitted by FoamFinger1 on January 26, 2009 - 12:37pm.

A few tricks I used on the old man's house, cut the bill in half.

1. Get rid of second fridge. Any money saved purchasing discount food stuff will be off set by freezer/fridge exps.

2. Dial back pool pump hours. No heat on pool during off season.

3. Check temp on hot water tank. Usually too hot wasting energy. Also, install insulating blanket.

4. The misc electronics; radios, stereos, tv, vcr ect, should be plugged to a power strip, then all power shut off. Trickle or phantom loads draw small amounts b/c of memory & remote functions... Just flip the switch to that group of electronics you will use, otherwise keep off all other times.

5. Cooling a hot house requires way too much energy. Install plenty of attic fans. Close off extra rooms.

6. Run clothes/dish washers on cold water cycle. Hang more clothes to dry. (you have an extra warm house yes?)

7. Window covering for the sunny side of house should block heat and light. Check seals for leaks/drafts.

8. A three story? With proper venting, you should be able to create a draft to cool the house.

9. You could itemize each appliance down to each light bulb, or do a room by room. Close off one room, no use what so ever. Unplug everything, measure the difference month to month. isolate exps.

10. Compare old useage from one two three years. When did it spike? New tv's are energy hogs. Anything with a remote or memory or digital function will draw a trickle when not in use.

Good Luck.

Submitted by PadreBrian on January 26, 2009 - 12:39pm.

How old is the house? Also, it sounds like you are heating with electricity. Very expensive.

What are the bills in april? You should have zero heating or cooling in april.

Submitted by leucadiarenter on January 26, 2009 - 12:42pm.

then why does SDGandE recommend this to reduce your monthly bill?

Submitted by ibjames on January 26, 2009 - 12:45pm.

have your wife look into those nose sprays that are prescribed by doctors, I have allergies and those sprays changed my life

nose spray and an air filter in your bedroom, keep bedroom closed

replace all your light bulbs with the small fluorescent variety

do not heat or cool the house while gone, turn the heat down in the kids rooms, buy sweatshirts and slippers for everyone..

my wife and I do this, we hardly ever have the heat on, though.. 5k sq.ft, I can't imagine ever getting your bill down that much..

Submitted by flu on January 26, 2009 - 12:49pm.

FoamFinger1 wrote:
A few tricks I used on the old man's house, cut the bill in half.

1. Get rid of second fridge. Any money saved purchasing discount food stuff will be off set by freezer/fridge exps.

2. Dial back pool pump hours. No heat on pool during off season.

3. Check temp on hot water tank. Usually too hot wasting energy. Also, install insulating blanket.

4. The misc electronics; radios, stereos, tv, vcr ect, should be plugged to a power strip, then all power shut off. Trickle or phantom loads draw small amounts b/c of memory & remote functions... Just flip the switch to that group of electronics you will use, otherwise keep off all other times.

5. Cooling a hot house requires way too much energy. Install plenty of attic fans. Close off extra rooms.

6. Run clothes/dish washers on cold water cycle. Hang more clothes to dry. (you have an extra warm house yes?)

7. Window covering for the sunny side of house should block heat and light. Check seals for leaks/drafts.

8. A three story? With proper venting, you should be able to create a draft to cool the house.

9. You could itemize each appliance down to each light bulb, or do a room by room. Close off one room, no use what so ever. Unplug everything, measure the difference month to month. isolate exps.

10. Compare old useage from one two three years. When did it spike? New tv's are energy hogs. Anything with a remote or memory or digital function will draw a trickle when not in use.

Good Luck.

To add #3, consider buying a hot water heater blanket from home depot or something, especially if the tank is outside the house in a garage or external closet.

For allergies, i use this. Loud, but does wonders.

http://www.kaz.com/kaz/store/product/7f1...

I wouldn't recommend a ionizing filter (the kind you find in sharper image).

Submitted by AN on January 26, 2009 - 12:46pm.

poway_seller wrote:
This is what it said:

Appliance Annual cost Percentage of total
annual energy bill
Laundry $17 0%
Kitchen Appliances $30 1%
Air Conditioning $123 3%
Home Office $130 3%
Small Appliances $183 5%
Refrigerator/Freezers $404 10%
Pool/Spa $446 11%
Lighting $1,240 31%
Space Heating $1,308 32%
Total $3,881

Underestimates some expenses, but tells me that the POOL is much less an issue than I thought. I need to go home and enter it in FULL detail and then I'll see where it really helps.


Based on this analysis, it shows that the biggest hogs are lighting and space heating. You can totally reduce that if you only have/use 1 bulb per room and only turn on one bulb at a time. Don't use heater/ac and just extra thick or light clothing. That will make the biggest dent in your energy bill. But then, what's the point of buying and living in such a big fancy house when you have to resort to that type of measure. Personally, I'd just chalk that up to the cost of buying a nice big house. You can always live in a 2 bedroom apartment and you can run everything 24/7 and still only use ~150/month.

Submitted by BGinRB on January 26, 2009 - 12:48pm.

Once the usage goes beyond 130% of the baseline the cost of kWh triples.
1hp engine is not that bad - that's ~746W (~110kWh/month).

Submitted by meadandale on January 26, 2009 - 12:53pm.

Frankly, if you can afford to live in a 5500 square foot house (and think that that much space is necessary to house 2 people and a toddler) than you just need to suck it up. I'm thinking that you can afford to pay a $500 utility bill.

Submitted by carli on January 26, 2009 - 12:55pm.

I didn't see any mention of indoor/outdoor fireplaces or gas grills, but they may be a possible culprit.

We recently moved from a home that had an outdoor fireplace along with an outdoor BBQ gas grill, both of which were directly hooked up to our SDGE gas line. We used the outdoor fireplace pretty infrequently, but we did use the BBQ grill at least 2-3 times/week.

When we moved to another place without a direct gas hook-up to the outdoor grill and no outdoor fireplace, our SDGE bill went down dramatically. Each house had similar square footage and other characteristics, so that's what we think made the difference.

Submitted by Casca on January 26, 2009 - 1:15pm.

You need to get yourself a swamp cooler, some oil lamps, and let that pool turn green. I understand that it's very fashionable now. You might want to get rid of the wife too. She sounds weak.

Submitted by pabloesqobar on January 26, 2009 - 1:44pm.

flu wrote:

Do you use your oven a lot? Is your fridge always running (if so, why aren't you chasing after it...hark hark hark. sorry, couldn't resist). If your fridge is always running, it means you are probably either setting the temp too low OR are packing the fridge so tight that it's no longer efficient).

Several years ago I had a guy from SDG&E come to my apartment to see how it could be made more energy efficient. It was a free program if you qualified. He told me to keep more stuff in my refrigerator to make it more efficient. A fridge will have to keep turning on to maintain a certain temperature. It will need to do this less if it is full of cold food/liquids rather than just perpetually cooling an empty box. Makes sense.

Submitted by Noob on January 26, 2009 - 1:47pm.

Wow! My electric bill last month was $23. I'm single and travel for work. It pays big time to never be home!

Submitted by jficquette on January 26, 2009 - 2:06pm.

You can figure out how much each appliance costs you per hour of use. We had a discussion on the cost of a Pool and I found a site where you can figure it.

If you wish, you can post the wattage each appliance uses and I can run the numbers.

If you want to do it yourself then here is a simple exercise.

Say an appliance takes 100 watts and you run it 1 hour a day and the cost per kilowatt hour (on your sd&g) is 20 cents per hour.

So 100 watt burning for an hour will cost 1/10 of a kilowatt hour (100/1000) x the rate of 20 cents or say .02 per hour, or 48 cents a day. So if you left if on for 24 hours and 30 days that 100 watt light bulb would be about $15 bucks a month.

Let me know if you want help with it.

John

PS Actually you could set up an Excel spreadsheet to make it easier. Make the columns Appliance, wattage, Hours of use, Kilowats used, cost per Kilowatt, total cost.

Submitted by FormerSanDiegan on January 26, 2009 - 2:06pm.

leucadiarenter wrote:
then why does SDGandE recommend this to reduce your monthly bill?

They don't recommend this to lower your monthly bill.

They recommend this so that some usage is shifted away from peak hours, resulting in less energy production required to meet peak demand and to avoid blackouts.

Submitted by poway_seller on January 26, 2009 - 2:26pm.

Our billing cycle resets the 16th of every month, so we agreed (wife and I) to start Feb 16th and really go over the top to cut down on as much as possible for 1 month to see what happens (just the easy things, I'm not going to start off by adding extra insulation between the exterior walls and the master bedroom).

shutting off lights, unplugging TVs that aren't used, unplugging chargers, turn off computer and monitors, all the "easy" stuff.

depending on the outcome we may just go back to old ways if it doesn't save that much, or go to next phase (whatever that means I don't know yet)

It's not the money per se, but more the principal of not wanting to waste it, and perhaps being more environmentally responsible in some small way. (I tried hypermiling my 2004 yukon for a full tank once and it only made mileage about 1-2 mpg more, which only saves me about $1-2 for every 100 miles I drive, hardly worth the extra effort)

Okay, now I'm expecting smart-a$$ comments about driving a yukon (kid, dogs and boat, so necessary), the big house (not necessary but my choice), and now a boat (haven't used in over a year).

Submitted by poway_seller on January 26, 2009 - 2:51pm.

"So 100 watt burning for an hour will cost 1/10 of a kilowatt hour (100/1000) x the rate of 20 cents or say .02 per hour, or 48 cents a day. So if you left if on for 24 hours and 30 days that 100 watt light bulb would be about $15 bucks a month."

sounds like my biggest issue may come from lighting as well.. nearly all recessed. I should check the wattage on all. problem is all are on electronic dimmers, and most CFL lightbulbs fail on electronic dimmers. The only ones that I've found that work on dimmers are Phillips bulbs and they are $12 each. So multiply that by 100 lights and it gets expensive! Cost vs. savings needed on that one...

Forgot to mention also have 2 40 pint per day capacity dehumifidiers that run 24 hours per day on 1st floor (which is below grade and back wall has moisture to pull out). I guess I need to find the wattage on those.

Submitted by CBad on January 26, 2009 - 2:50pm.

To give you a comparison, we are a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 kids) and SDGE is in the 60's-70's until we turn on the heat and it can jump up to around $120 as a high. But we have either 1 or none of the things you listed, we can fit 3 of our houses into yours, and live where we don't need AC.

Personally, I find the overhead recessed lighting to be inefficient. It seems to me like you need more of them to create the same light compared to just your basic overhead light.

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