Help is here! Keep utility costs down and pay your bills

Dealing with Rising Gas, Energy, and Water Bills?

Posted on Category General, Opportunities, Stories

With a cold fall and even colder winter in our county, heating costs have been on the rise. So why are costs going up for customers such as renters and homeowners? 

“We know it’s tough,” says Director of Safety Net Services, Laurel Hill. “Particularly for clients of low income and people on a fixed income, we want to be sure we’re helping as much as possible to pay bills and reduce costs.” 

The amount customers are charged can vary based on where they live, how much energy they use, their rate plan, the programs they are enrolled in, the weather, and more. PG&E is already taking steps to keep costs down for now and in the future. Here’s what we know:  

  • Prices that PG&E charges are driven by higher demand and tighter supplies on the West Coast as customers use natural gas to heat their homes and businesses during cooler than normal temperatures 
  • Lower-than-normal natural gas storage levels on the West Coast are also impacting prices with
    storage at about 26% lower than the five-year average 
  • Higher natural gas prices also affect the price PG&E pays for its customers’ electricity since many
    power plants use natural gas to generate electricity 

Community Action Marin staff are here to help, and there are several things that you can do right now: 

  1. Prepare your home for colder weather by reducing drafts and air leaks and sealing holes around pipes, wiring, vents, or recessed lighting with spray foam, caulk, or weatherstripping 
  2. Keep areas around vents open – furniture and carpet can block heating vents and make heating systems work harder and prevent rooms from heating quickly 
  3. Insulate and set your water heater for savings – water heating is the second largest energy cost in an average home and insulating your water heater can lower water heating costs by 4-9% 
  4. Dial down the thermostat 7-10 degrees for eight hours and save up to 10%  
  5. Use window coverings, opening curtains and blinds to warm and light your home during the day, closing them at night to keep out the cold 
  6. Wash only full loads of laundry and in cold water  
  7. Set your water heater thermostat at 120 degrees or lower to reduce the amount of energy it takes to produce and maintain hot water 

Our team can also help you access and apply for financial assistance programs: 

  • Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) provides energy-savings improvements at no charge 
  • Green Saver helps residential customers in select communities save 20% on their electricity bills by subscribing to 100% solar energy 
  • Other programs include Medical Baseline, which offers a lower monthly rate for customers with certain medical conditions  

Finally, you can also improve home energy efficiency with PG&E’s range of energy efficiency (EE) programs and services: 

  • Check your rate plan – get a personalized Rate Plan Comparison to find the best rate plan for your personal energy use 
  • Get a Bill Forecast Alert when your bill is projected to exceed an amount set by you, so you can reduce your energy use before your next statement 
  • Enroll in Budget Billing to spread out annual energy costs evenly throughout the year to avoid peaks during some months when energy use is highest 

Have questions? Email us at LIHEAP@camarin.org. We can get you a LIHEAP application or connect you to other resources to help meet your needs.