All You Need To Know About Your Electricity Bill in California

All You Need To Know About Your Electricity Bill in California titlecard

Let’s face it; electricity bills in California can be confusing. While the charges for each individual may be relatively small, the total cost of your bill can be pretty high. This is especially true during the summer months when we use air conditioning nonstop. Before moving into an apartment in California, writing down your utility bills, especially electricity, will give you a rough idea of the monthly expenses.

The April 2022 Report for January showed that California was among the top 10 states with the highest electricity bill, averaging about $134.88 monthly. The San Diego region took the highest average electricity price in the country, at 41.9 cents per kilowatt an hour.

To keep your lights on in California with the current surging electricity bills, you constantly search for better ways of cutting your utility costs. To help you understand your electricity bill in California, we’ve put together a quick guide to help explain in detail all you need to know about your electricity bill in California.

What is the average electricity bill in California in 2022?

Sunny day in California

The average electricity bill in California, according to the March 2022 Save on Energy Electricity Bill Report, California consumes an average of 572 kWh per month. This translates to an average of 23.22 cents/KWh, and an average monthly electricity bill of $101.49.

This amount may be dependent on the location. For example, the average monthly cost of electricity in Northern California is between $100 and $150 per month.

The average electricity bill will be radically different based on a few factors, including the size of the household and the number of people living there.

Average electric bill in California studio apartment

The average electricity bill for a studio apartment is about $55 per month if you live alone. However, the cost will vary depending on where you live and your lifestyle. However, with the sudden electric bill hit, you may need to make adjustments in your home to afford electricity.

You may have to choose whether you’re turning your air conditioner on when it’s 110 degrees outside or running your dishwasher during peak hours.

Average electric bill for a 3-bedroom house

If you’re looking at moving to a 3-bedroom house with 3-4 people, the electric bill will depend on how much of a power-hog your household is, but in California, between $130 – $170 per month is typical. If you run a lot of air conditioning in the summer, it shoots; the reverse is true.

Increase in California electric rate in 2022

California residents have been hit by sudden electric bill spikes twice this year on monthly bills for Pacific Gas and Electric Company customers.

Starting January 1st, the average household experienced an increase of about $12 monthly and another one of about $14 on March 1st, right after a big jump that went into effect a few weeks prior.

The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously endorsed this rate hike. The hike includes a 10% hit for small businesses and a further increase for Industrial establishments. In other words, PG & E’s entire customer base has experienced an average growth of 12.69%. 

The increase in energy prices, according to CALCCA, is mainly a result of supply and demand issues for natural gasses impacted by Europe’s political instability. The domestic energy demand sank during the pandemic and has since recouped faster than supply.

Another big driver of rising electric rates is utilities’ cost of wildfire mitigation programs. SDG & E, for example, claims spending $3 billion in ratepayer funds over the last decade.  

The SDG & E electricity prices are the highest of the three investor-owned utilities in California. They argue that it’s because of a small customer base over which to spread out the costs of providing energy.

PG & E  draws hydroelectric power from a system of pipes linked to reservoirs and dams. Still, persistent drought conditions across the western US and climate change have diminished that supply.

California has been working hard to ensure the electric grid is reliable and affordable while keeping pace with its harsh climate goals.

While PG & E have their 16 largest water reservoirs at about 63% capacity, they continue to urge people about water conservation which means there’ll be more water to power homes.

Conserving water may not directly relate to lower electric bills, but the company recommends this practice as it means there’ll be enough in reserve. 

How to lower your electric bill in California?

Head of a phone charger

For California residents, the rising power bills have left many howling. Suppose there’s anything you’ve learned from the recent increase in electric bills.

In that case, it is probably optimizing your energy and being more aware of electricity consumption both at home or in business. Here are some of the measures you can take to lower your bill drastically.

1. Take advantage of renewable energy

Your electric bill depends heavily on how much your home is electrically powered. If you’re a home or business owner, utilize renewable energy from wind, solar, and other renewable resources.

There are increased options, for example, to get rooftop solar power for homes in California, making it more affordable than ever as new solar companies continue to enter the market. This makes it a more viable option than being electrically powered.

2. Use Energy Star-qualified appliances

You can save up to 30% on your electricity bills and use less energy by buying Energy Star-certified appliances. This is because energy-efficient appliances spend a tiny amount of energy to complete tasks allowing for an enhanced level of energy conservation. 

If your appliances are beyond ten years old, consider replacing them with Energy Star models to save on money and energy.

3. Install a programmable thermostat

Switching out an older thermostat to a programmable one can save up to 10% on heating and cooling your home. Set your thermostat at 85 degrees when away and to 78 degrees when home during summer.

The optimal temperatures should be around 68 degrees while you’re home and 58 degrees when away during winter. You should also consider checking your current thermostat’s location as it could be placed wrongly, triggering the AC to turn on unnecessarily.

4. Adjust your fridge and freezer accordingly

Setting your fridge to favorable temperatures of 38 degrees for the refrigerator and 0 to 5 degrees for your freezer will not only keep food fresh but will also not require working as hard to maintain the temperature.

Keep your fridge and freezer full since food acts as insulation, reducing the time it has to run to stay cool.

5. Plan annual HVAC maintenance

You can increase the efficiency of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system by scheduling a yearly inspection and cleaning. Changing the filter every 30 days will keep your HVAC system running at peak efficiency.

6. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with LEDs

According to the US Department of Energy, LED light bulbs use at least 90% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.

When you switch to energy-efficient lighting, you can fundamentally lower the energy and money you use for an equal amount of light sustainably. LED light bulbs use around 85% less electricity than regular incandescent bulbs.

7. Use dimmers

Dimming your lights will tremendously reduce wattage and output, which helps in saving energy. They offer a more flexible alternative to traditional switches allowing you to adjust lighting with considerable control.

Turning the dimmer to reduce brightness helps you save on electric bills and money.

8. Make the most of off-peak rates

California offers cheap electric rates to its residents during off-peak hours. In the springtime, for example, at midday, there’s enough solar and wind on the grid making it less expensive to get it to people. 

Off-peak hours are the best time to heat water and run your dishwasher or air conditioner.

9. Apply for monthly energy bill assistance

People from low-income families, seniors, immigrants, and others may be qualified to receive free energy-efficient home improvements. They can also apply to be enrolled in either of these two energy bill discount programs:

  • The California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program. This program allows you to receive a 20% discount on your monthly bill.
  • The Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) Program. If you enroll in this program, you’ll receive a 2 cents per Kilowatt hour discount.

10. Evaluate your windows

Assessing your windows can increase your home’s energy efficiency by a great deal. You can do one of the following:

  • Apply window film
  • Add weatherstripping during winter
  • Caulk around window edges
  • Hang bulky drapes or line your lightweight curtains
  • Install awnings
  • Plant trees
  • Replace old windows

11. Use fans instead of A/C

You can rest your air conditioner by either using fans or opening the windows to cool your home. Using a ceiling fan can make your home feel 10 degrees cooler while utilizing only 10% of the energy a central air conditioner does.

Combine oscillating fans with ceiling fans to create powerful airflow at a lower cost in your home.

12. Unplug appliances when not in use

Get into the habit of unplugging your appliances and chargers if they’re not in use. The cost may seem negligible for a few devices, but it may be one of the reasons your monthly electric bill is through the roof.

You can also save on energy usage by smartening up your electronics. Buy smart chargers, surge protectors, timers, and energy use monitors to conserve energy while powering your gadgets.

13. Scout for discounted rates

There are various discounted rate plans you can sign up for as a Californian:

  • Time-of-use residential rate plans. These plans have a base charge and different rates depending on when and how much energy you use.
  • Save power days. Earn electric bill credits by opting in to receive alerts so you can reduce your usage.
  • Summer discount plan. This plan lets you earn electricity bill credits by allowing your A/C unit to be shut down during high-demand periods or emergencies.
  • Medical baseline. If you have someone in your household who is either; paraplegic, hemiplegic, or quadriplegic; has multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, with a life-threatening illness; has a compromised immune system, or requires the use of a medical life support device. 

You may be eligible to receive additional baseline allocation

  • Green rate. This plan gives you the option of purchasing your energy from renewable sources, such as solar.
  • Net Energy Metering (NEM). This is a plan that allows you to qualify for a credit on your energy bill by producing your power.

How to get help with utility bills in California

According to the federal government, you may qualify for assistance if you’re struggling to pay your utility bills in California, either by missing payments or foreseeing a problem. The State of California, using funds provided by the federal government, approved several new programs, including:

  1. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

LIHEAP is a program funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, and Office of Community Services. They assist low-income households in paying a huge part of their income to meet their energy needs.

  1. California Arrearage Payment Program (CAPP)

CAPP offers financial assistance for California energy utility customers who are 60 days or more behind on payments. Utility customers don’t need to apply for help.

The credit will automatically apply to some or all of your utility bills. The exact amount will depend on the availability of funds and the combined needs of all customers.

  1. California Water and Wastagewater Arrearage Payment Program (CWWAPP)

CWWAPP gives financial assistance to California water and wastewater customers with debts incurred from March 4, 2020, to June 15, 2021.

They provide financial relief to residential and commercial customers who don’t require to apply for assistance. For an eligible account, a credit may be applied to some or all of your utility bills depending on funds availability and the combined needs of all utility customers.

  1. The California Covid-19 Rent and Utility Relief Program

Through its Department of Housing and Community Development, the State of California provides financial help to landlords and other housing providers to assist qualifying tenants that meet income requirements but have been impacted by Covid-19 to pay their electricity and water utility bills.

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