$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 flu on January 31, 2009 - 10:19pm.

LuckyInOC wrote:
All attics are ventilated. Good insulation (R-30+) above the ceiling makes venting the attic much better and less of an energy hit. Good ventilation in the attic also prolongs your roof from overheating, especially for standard composition roofs.

Unfortunately, my house is 90% cathedral ceilings: upstairs Master Bed & Bath, (2) Bedrooms, Bonus Room. I have a small attic above the hall way and one bathroom upstairs. I have to calculate the free area of the vents see how much fan (CFM) I can use. It may not be enough to make a big enough difference. But you must have good outside air quality to use a whole house fan and little or no allergies.

I am thinking to put a drop insulated ceiling the 2 bedrooms for better comfort and less heating in the rooms. 75% of the room capacity is above 8 ft.

For us, the dual-pane windows was more for:
1. Air (Dirt) Infiltration during Santa Ana's.
2. Temperature Comfort
3. Building Aesthetics
4. Noise Control
5. UV Control
6. Energy Savings

Our payback for our windows is something like 11 years and we paid only $10k for the windows, much less than most would have. We had quotes up to $30-40k. Last year electric bill for winter (3 mos) is $100 per month. $50 in summer with fans & no AC. Our gas averages about $40 per month. We might be saving $25 per month due to the windows, probably less.

Invest $10-20k SCE, SDG&E, &/or Sempra and offset your energy bills from the income, inflation proof.
Its kind of like using a Discover card, pay yourself.

Lucky In OC

Do they sell triple pane glass here in CA. If so, any more efficient than double?

Also one big drawback I'm finding with double pane.... When you have a pressure leak, its the suck.

Submitted by LuckyInOC on February 1, 2009 - 12:45am.

It all depends on the purpose and area of the windows used in the building system. The walls and windows in a building is a energy system just as much as the HVAC system is.

For instance in So. Cal., if you have a room with a large south facing window, which would be better in winter: 1) a clear triple-pane window or 2) a low-e double-pane window. #2 would usually be better. The sunlight will have a bigger energy impact than thermal properties of the two windows.

Think of the # of panes as as you would wall insulation (R-11, R-13, R-19, R-30). More panes have more insulation for thermal loads. The more glass you have, the more R-Value you need to meet the minimum average R-Value for Walls for Title 24 requirements. Clear single-pane is about R-1. Clear double-pane Glass is about R-2. Low-E double-pane glass is about R-2.6 to R-3.5. Low-E triple-pane glass is about R-3.5 to R-5.6. In order to put a lot of glass in homes you must increase the R-value of the walls. This means going to 2x6 wall construction with R-30.

Windows also allow solar heat gains. To minimize this effect, films (measured in shading coefficients) are applied to the inside surfaces of the glass in warmer climates. In colder climates, this costs heating energy in the winter.

I use to do energy studies and Title 24's for commercial buildings. Based on the amount of glazing designed into the building, we would tell the architect what type glazing was need: Single, Double, or Triple pane and shading coefficient. Sometimes they would come back after reducing the window height, adding overhangs and/or wing walls to provide more shading effects.

For most of So. Cal., where temps are usually less than +/- 20 deg delta from inside temps, energy savings or thermal comfort would not be a driving reason for using triple-pane glass. Noise may be an issue to use triple-pane if you live next to a busy road, highway or airport.

Btw, I work near Torrance Med. Love seeing those Robinson copters fly over our building.

Lucky in OC

Submitted by EconProf on February 2, 2009 - 7:40am.

A few tips about windows:
Triple-pane is seldom cost effective. Super expensive to buy, and hellishly costly to replace when broken or the air seal inside fails (as it eventually will) and they get foggy. Also, weight becomes a real problem as they are hard to open and shut and the rollers can't handle the load and fail.
Tinting can make sense, but mostly on the south side of the building, and never on the north side. Don't be talked into too heavy a tint--it can block your view.
Big overhangs are best sun-blocks if they can be made part of your building, as are strategically placed trees.
Be careful about shopping for a house this time of year with "great sunset views from lots of big view windows". You could be buying a summer solar oven.

Submitted by unbiasedobserver on February 2, 2009 - 3:22pm.

My Bentley convertible is only getting 14mpg, can anyone help me?

Submitted by poway_seller on February 3, 2009 - 1:34pm.

Just came across this press release:

Home Owners can Slash Their Utility Bills by 25%
One Switch. Many Reasons to Do So.

CLEVELAND, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- As effortlessly as you flip off a light switch when leaving the house, you can now reduce total energy consumption up to 25% thanks to wireless technology offered by Magnum Energy Solutions LLC. GreenSwitch electrical outlets and light switches turn off, programmable thermostats convert to unoccupied mode and phantom power usage becomes a thing of the past. All with just the flip of a switch, it's that simple. What's more, it pays for itself in less than twenty four months.

Existing home? New Construction? No problem. Installation takes about an hour and can include outside buildings up to 100 yards away. Forward-thinking hotels have put GreenSwitch technology to work in reducing their overhead and now it is being introduced to the residential market.


Submitted by flu on February 3, 2009 - 1:46pm.

unbiasedobserver wrote:
My Bentley convertible is only getting 14mpg, can anyone help me?

You tried disconnecting 1/2 of the spark plugs to your V8 or W12?

How about trying this?
I'm sure this works :)

Submitted by poway_seller on February 3, 2009 - 2:22pm.

Just bought the Kill-A-Watt... will come from Amazon on Thursday. I plan on taking inventory throughout the house and will report back any interesting findings. (thanks to the other poster for the suggestion)

Submitted by afx114 on February 3, 2009 - 2:40pm.

Solar attic fans are pretty cool:


Good article: www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20070722/news_1hs22dulley.html

What is nice about these is, on the sunniest days when the most ventilation is needed, these fans, powered by the sun, run very fast. On cool, cloudy days, less electricity is produced and they run slower.

Submitted by poway_seller on February 5, 2009 - 2:54pm.

Most efficient appliance? The one that is not plugged in. Going without a fridge;

But...Why turning off your fridge costs more energy

2005 Residential Energy Consumption Survey. Detailed Consumption and Expenditures (C&E) tables containing Space Heating, Air-Conditioning, Water Heating, and Appliance residential energy data are now available.

Submitted by UCGal on February 5, 2009 - 3:38pm.

poway_seller wrote:
Most efficient appliance? The one that is not plugged in. Going without a fridge;

But...Why turning off your fridge costs more energy

2005 Residential Energy Consumption Survey. Detailed Consumption and Expenditures (C&E) tables containing Space Heating, Air-Conditioning, Water Heating, and Appliance residential energy data are now available.

The arguments against unplugging your fridge are valid FOR YOUR ONLY FRIDGE.

However, if you have 2 fridges and a wine fridge... a solid argument can be made for unplugging 2 of the 3.

Just saying....

Submitted by patientlywaiting on February 5, 2009 - 3:59pm.

Buy a small refrigerator and eat less.

American refrigerators are enormous compared to what is used in other countries.

Drink room temperature beverages without ice.

Use a front-load washer (saves water and energy).

Hang out laundry to dry on clothesline. You can setup one in the garage so you don't need to worry about rain or night-time dew. My retired relatives did that. They have a vegetable garden too. It keeps them busy

Submitted by poway_seller on February 5, 2009 - 8:53pm.

Okay so my Kill-A-Watt came today from Amazon, and I couldn't wait to put it to the test. My wife thought I was nuts going around the house like a possessed electrician. Here are my results. First number is the "phantom" draw and second is wattage when in use.

- Dehumidifer 2 264 (this was a shock! I had two of these running 24 hours per day, which based on my usage is about $2.55/day between the 2)
- 52" LCD 7 200
- Wine Fridge (no phantom) 150
- Beverage Fridge - I got a reading of 7 when on, which seems wrong, so need to research this more)
- Air Hockey Table 2 210 (never runs)
- Main Fridge - can't get behind it to get a reading, will need to research manual
- Camera Battery Charger 1 5
- Paper Shredder 1 70
- Bluetooth Charger 1 1
- Shaver 1
- Computer Charger 1
- Sharper Image Room Purifier 2 8
- Powerstrip next to bed (has multiple chargers, USB powered charger) 1 12
- Nightstand Light 1 25
- Nightlight 0 2
- Blackberry Charger 1 4
- Massage Chair 3 15
- DVD Player 1 5
- Apple TV 15 18

Household lightbulbs are all CFL or 65 watt max.

not yet measured:
HEPA Filter
Room Air/Heaters - can't use Kill A Watt since 220v (different outlet style)
- DVRs, stereos, clock radios, cordless drill power charger, and a few more things

Yeah yeah, it's lots of stuff but remember, it's a house not an apartment :)

MY PROJECTED SAVINGS USING THIS CALCULATER AND COST OF 20 CENTS PER KwH http://www.citytrf.net/costs_calculator.htm

Unplug Dehumidifers, All Chargers, TVs in other rooms, Wine Fridge = $100-$120/mo

If I can get rid of some electronic dimmers I can do CFL lights and cut each bulb by 50 watts, average 6 hours per day is savings of $1.80 per bulb per month. I could likely do that to 10-15 lights.

Submitted by flu on February 5, 2009 - 9:04pm.

Air hockey table? Ok, this thread keeps getting better. Do you have a greenhouse too?

Submitted by jficquette on February 5, 2009 - 9:57pm.

flu wrote:
Air hockey table? Ok, this thread keeps getting better. Do you have a greenhouse too?

LOL, Grow room.

Submitted by poway_seller on February 6, 2009 - 12:03am.

didnt buy the air hockey, it came with the house when we got it, since it was too large and heavy for the previous owner to remove. it's arcade style so super fun!

Submitted by anxvariety on February 6, 2009 - 12:08am.

Had a friend who just received a bill in the $300 range after being in the $100 range. She called them and SDGE came out and turns out they had read the meter wrong.

Submitted by poway_seller on February 12, 2009 - 9:43am.

Want to lower your electric bill? Google wants to help


Submitted by sdduuuude on February 12, 2009 - 2:00pm.

Professor Piggington wrote:
In God we Trust. Everyone Else Bring Data

poway_seller - you brought data ! Cool. Interesting.
Don't forget to try motion control on lights that get left on for no reason.

You can probably connect the meter to the 220v outlet and double the reading, but you'd have to know which 2 wires to connect so don't do it if you don't know. I'd be in there with bare wires and alligator clips and end up looking like Wiley Coyote.

Submitted by poway_seller on February 17, 2009 - 12:42pm.

Just my luck... since today marks the first day my SDG&E cycle begins, I was fully prepared to keep all the biggest culprits unplugged.

Turns out I left a sliding door open over the weekend and the wind and rain blew quite a bit of water through the screen and onto the hardwood floors.

So now I need to run a blower (290 watts) and my dehumidifier (265 watts) for a few days to try and bring out the moisture from the wood.

At least I know this will add ~$2.80/day to the final bill, and can subtract it from my savings calculation to see how everything else worked out.

If it's not one thing it's another (but hey, it's not an apartment, I know that)

Submitted by poway_seller on February 20, 2009 - 7:41pm.

BILL UPDATE. So I just got my bill for last cycle, and something is odd. It is SO LOW that it doesn't seem correct. Mid-cycle I unplugged lots of things, used the Kill A Watt to find the problems, and made changes I estimated would reduce my bill by $100-$120 at most. Well, the bill came and the TOTAL was $92 (down from near $500 last month). I dont know how this could be other than error. I'll hsve to report back next month to see if this was just an anomoly.

ELEC/DR 01-16 02-17
498 kWh $27.44
Baseline Allowance 368 kWh
Baseline Usage 368 kWh @ $.04363
101% - 130% of Baseline 110 kWh @ $.06380
131% - 200% of Baseline 20 kWh @ $.21818
DWR Bond Charge 498 kWh @ $.00491 2.45
Electric Energy Charge
Baseline - 368 kWh @ $.08013 29.49
101% - 130% of Baseline - 110 kWh @ $.08013 8.81
131% - 200% of Baseline - 20 kWh @ $.08013 1.60
Total Electric Charges 69.79

Submitted by NotCranky on February 20, 2009 - 8:37pm.

If they are checking your meter every two months and billed the first month on an estimate of past use, your bill came out cheaper based on the things you did but possibly averaged between the two payments.

Submitted by gardnerjeff on November 14, 2011 - 10:40am.

i just applied to have my sdge bill lowered since I am a student and only work part time. you can schedule a meeting with one of their reps to see if you qualify for up to %30 off your monthly bill

Submitted by patb on November 15, 2011 - 11:17pm.

poway_seller wrote:
This is what it said:

Appliance Annual cost Percentage of total
annual energy bill

Refrigerator/Freezers $404 10%
Pool/Spa $446 11%
Lighting $1,240 31%
Space Heating $1,308 32%
Total $3,881


so look at the big ones first.
1) Lighting, you have CFL and Flourescent, either get disciplined about turning them off all the time, or adding timers or sensors, you should switch to LED lighting.

2) Space heating? maybe less space heat? get some sweaters.

Submitted by sreeb on November 16, 2011 - 1:51am.

Your wine cooler seems really high. High enough that I expect it is broken. You should put the meter on it for a day to be sure though.

Electricity rates in CA are really high. Assuming that you have gas heat, it is probably cheaper to use the furnaces than space heat. Especially if you heat to an oven like 78.

As has been mentioned, incandescent light are expensive.

Submitted by enron_by_the_sea on November 16, 2011 - 11:25am.

Good suggestions but realize that this topic was discussed in Jan-2009. Original poster is probably not reading this thread anymore and he is too rich to get any relief from SDGE (living in ~5000sf house and all) ...

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