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Sustainability and Mobility

Residential Resources

By utilizing the tips provided below, the community can increase its energy efficiency, save money on energy costs, and better prepare for power outages.

What temperature should I keep my home for optimal energy efficiency?

In the winter, turn your thermostat down to 68 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night. You'll save 5 percent on heating bills for every 1 degree you lower your thermostat.

In the summer, set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.

How much energy does a compact fluorescent light bulb save?

Compact fluorescent lights can save you approximately 75 percent of the energy of a comparable incandescent light bulb.

What are the different types of power outages, how can I prepare for an outage, and how can I protect my appliances during an outage?

Many power outages occur as a result of excessive energy use. Learn more about the types of power outages and their stages as identified by the California Independent System Operator (ISO). In addition, see the following links for more information on prearing for power outages

During an outage, turn off all major appliances such as washers and dryers. Unplug all sensitive electronic equipment like television sets, VCRs, microwaves and computers. This reduces the electrical demand when the power is restored and reduces the chance of damage caused by electrical surges. To know when the power has been restored, leave a few light switches on.

How do I get a free energy audit of my home?

Contact SDG&E for online, mail-in, or in-home energy profiles.

What are some tips I can use to save energy?

1. Eliminate Wasted Energy

  • Turn off appliances, lights, and equipment when not in use. You can also save by unplugging electronic devices and chargers when they are not in use. Don't forget to turn computers and printers off at the power strip.

2. Turn Up Your Thermostat

  • During warm weather months, set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher when you are home, and 85 degrees or off when you are away. Using ceiling or room fans allows you to set the thermostat higher because the air movement will cool the room. You can save up to 3 percent for each degree the thermostat is set above 72 degrees.

3. Implement energy saving techniques for pools and spas

  • By checking with your pool or spa maintenance company about reducing filtration time, you can save significantly on your energy bills. Reduce the operating time of your pool filter and automatic cleaning sweep to four to five hours, and only during off-peak times. Investing in a pool or spa cover is another great tip for improving energy-efficiency, particularly in cooler weather. Also, solar pool/spa heating systems typically provide a return on investment after only 1.5 to 7 years.

4. Use Your Appliances Wisely

  • To help prevent electricity outages, avoid running your appliances during peak hours -- from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. -- or anytime an electricity emergency is declared. Do laundry more efficiently by using warm or cold water settings for washing your clothes. Always use cold water for rinsing clothes. Line dry clothes whenever you can. When you need to use the clothes dryer, run full loads, use the moisture-sensing setting, and clean the lint trap after each use. Conserve energy by running your dishwasher only when it is fully loaded, and turn off the dry cycle and air-dry the dishes instead.

5. Use Portable Space Heaters to Heat One Room or Small Area, Not Your Entire Home

  • Portable space heaters can consume a lot of energy and are not designed to heat more than a small, contained area. By using portable space heaters properly, you can save extensively on energy costs.

6. Use Energy Efficient Lighting

  • Replace regular incandescent light bulbs that are used more than two hours per day with Energy Star compact fluorescent light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use approximately 75 percent less electricity than regular light bulbs and last up to seven years! Buy Energy Star certified table lamps, light fixtures, or torchieres.

7. Turn down the thermostat on your water heater

  • Setting the thermostat on your water heater to midrange (120° F) will provide plenty of hot water and save you money. In addition to savings on your utility bills, maintaining this mid-range temperature will reduce the risk of scalding.

8. Wrap Your Water Heater

  • If your water heater is older than 10 years, wrap it with an insulating blanket. Purchasing a hot water insulation jacket for your water heater may save on heating costs. Many newer models are already properly insulated, so be sure to check with the manufacturer before installing an insulation blanket. If you do install a blanket, don't cover the inspection plate – it could be a fire hazard.

9. Replace or clean filters and vents in home cooling and heating equipment

  • Regardless of what kind of heating or air conditioning system you own, routine maintenance will improve your comfort and save energy around the home. By regularly changing and cleaning air filters in your home's heating and cooling system, you will help them perform more efficiently. Dirty filters restrict airflow and can cause the system to run longer, increasing energy use.

10. Plug Your Home's Leaks

  • Weather-strip, seal, and caulk leaky doors and windows, and install foam gaskets behind outlet covers.

11. Install Energy-Saver Showerheads

  • This can save not only electricity, but water as well.

12. Install an Energy Star Thermostat

  • This can save up to 3 percent of your electricity use.

13. Use Energy Efficient Windows

  • Replace old windows with new high performance, energy efficient windows.

14. Install a Whole House Fan

  • An attic "whole house" fan draws cooler air into your home and forces hot air out through attic vents. Use it when the air is cool outside and in the early morning hours

15. Increase Attic Insulation

  • Insulate ceilings to R-30 standards if your attic has less than R-19

16. Insulate your home properly for all seasons

  • Up to 20 percent of your home's heating can be lost through the ceiling. By adding insulation, sealing air-leaks and choosing ENERGY STAR labeled windows for your home, you can improve comfort and reduce heating and cooling costs year-round.

17. Seal your cooling and heating ducts

  • Ducts that move air to and from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner or heat pump are often big energy wasters. By sealing and insulating your ducts, you can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20%. Also, be sure to check that your whole system (i.e., furnace, heat pump, air conditioner, and heating and cooling) is energy efficient for further savings. Have your ducts tested and get any leaks or restrictions repaired by a qualified contractor.

18. Ceiling fans help save energy and improve comfort in summer and winter

  • In summer, or in hot climates, run ceiling fans counterclockwise (or downward) to cool. During winter, run them clockwise (upward motion) at a low speed, to circulate heat that gathers near the ceiling. Most fans have a switch to reverse the spin. When cooling, always turn off your ceiling fan when you leave the room, just as you do your lights (a fan only cools you, not a room, by creating a "wind-chill effect").

19. Buy Energy Star Appliances

  • When buying new appliances, be sure to purchase energy-efficient ENERGY STAR models. Also, look for seasonal incentives sponsored by utility companies for energy-efficient appliances.

20. Driving less than 60 miles per hour saves fuel

  • While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional 20 cents per gallon for gas.

21. Reduce vehicle miles traveled. Walk, bike and take public transportation to reduce air pollution

  • The average number of miles driven PER PERSON has increased a total of 36% in the past 15 years. This is adding to air pollution. Incidents of asthma, and other respiratory conditions have also dramatically increased in the San Diego region. Plan your trips so that you can reduce miles traveled, and walk, bike and use public transit.

22. Many factors affect the fuel economy of your car

  • To improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, go easy on the brakes and gas pedal, avoid hard accelerations, reduce time spent idling and unload unnecessary items in your trunk to reduce weight. If you have a removable roof rack and you are not using it, take it off to improve your fuel economy as much as 5%.

23. When running errands, combine trips

  • Several short trips taken while your car's engine is cold can use twice as much fuel and produce twice the amount of greenhouse gas emissions as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.