As winter chills continue to hit the southland, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) is offering energy and money-saving tips and encouraging customers to take simple steps to help them stay warm while keeping a blanket on natural gas bills. Home heating is the number one natural gas use for residential customers, accounting for up to 65 percent of a home's total winter gas use.
"We know that a typical home's natural gas use for heating increases during colder months, sometimes up to three times more than in warmer seasons. A good way to help lower winter gas bills is to conserve in two key areas that can account for most of our gas use: home and water heating," said Hal Snyder, vice president of customer solutions for SoCalGas.
"SoCalGas is committed to helping customers manage their energy costs and has programs that can help. We encourage customers to visit our website for energy-saving tips, rebates and bill-assistance programs," Snyder added. SoCalGas offers these tips for a warm and energy-efficient winter:
-- Save up to 30 percent on heating costs by lowering your furnace thermostat by three to five degrees (health permitting).
-- Install a programmable thermostat to help automatically regulate your home's temperature for comfort control and energy savings.
-- Keep your heating system tuned up to operate at maximum efficiency. Clean or replace furnace filters according to manufacturer recommendations and keep all heating vents and furnace registers free of dirt, lint and obstructions.
-- Caulk and weather-strip drafty windows and doors.
-- Open your drapes and shades during the day, allowing the sun to warm your house. Close them at night to limit the amount of heat that escapes.
Water heating is the second largest energy expense in the average home and there are four key ways to cut water heating costs: use less hot water, turn down the thermostat on your water heater, insulate your water heater, or buy a new, more efficient model. Setting your water heater's thermostat at or slightly below the manufacturer's recommendation may prevent scalding and help lower energy costs. While some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140 F, most households usually only require them set at 120 F.
-- If you have a gas water heater, turn it to the "Pilot" setting when you go on vacation.
-- Insulate exterior, uncovered hot water pipes.
-- Take shorter, cooler showers rather than baths and install low-flow, water-saving showerheads. Showers can account for over 50 percent of your hot water usage.
-- Save up to 10 percent of hot water costs by washing full laundry loads in cold water and wash full loads in the dishwasher.
-- Fix leaky faucets. One drop of hot water per second can waste 500 gallons a year.
Through December 31, 2013, SoCalGas is offering the following rebates: a $200 rebate on central furnaces, a $50 rebate on qualifying gravity wall furnaces and rebates of up to $75 on qualifying storage water heaters and up to $200 on qualifying tankless water heaters.
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