As the mercury rises this summer, customers are looking for ways to keep their electricity bills down. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) offers five simple ways to beat the heat and lower air conditioner costs this August- typically one of the warmest months of the year.

Home cooling costs accounted for the largest percentage of residential electricity usage last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Many AC units are working around the clock to keep temperatures indoors cool and comfortable across Northern and Central California. “The harder the air conditioner works, the higher the utility bill. We want our customers to know there are simple and inexpensive ways to prevent their monthly energy bill from spiking,” said Vincent Davis, senior director of energy efficiency at PG&E. Weather and the climate zones where customers live impact AC usage and monthly energy bills. PG&E encourages customers to consider five easy ways to lower AC costs and still stay cool indoors this summer. 1. Shade the air conditioner Keep outside AC equipment shaded to keep the system cooler, while ensuring the air flow isn’t blocked. Also, keep the area around the AC system clear and free of overgrown vegetation or other items that could impact equipment efficiency. 

2. Reduce sunlight

Sunlight streaming in through windows can raise the inside temperature of homes and businesses. Planting shade trees outside windows can curb encroaching sunlight. Blackout shades or curtains are another low-cost option.

3. Install a programmable thermostat Programmable thermostats cut energy usage by adjusting temperatures while residents are away or asleep. Program the device or purchase one that slowly adapts to temperature preferences. Some programmable thermostats can even be set up via a smartphone app away from home to enhance cooling and comfort. 4. Use ceiling fans

Ceiling fans circulate cool air, taking some of the burden off the AC system. However, remember to turn them off when leaving. Fans move air, not cool it so they waste energy if left on when no one is at home or work.

5. Avoid cooking indoors

During times of extreme heat, consider using low-heat emitting appliances like microwaves and crock-pots. Cooking with an oven or on a stovetop generates more heat, which strains AC systems. Reduce energy usage by cooking or grilling outside.