Want to reduce your energy bills this summer?

Then a few handy tips from the California Energy Commission can help out local residents. According to the commission, it costs roughly – on average, depending upon geography – $1,900 per year for energy in the typical California home. But steps can be taken to lower those costs, and help the environment at the same time.

Some of the suggestions from the commission include:

•Be a speedy chef: Nothing is more energy efficient for cooking than a microwave. It uses two-thirds less energy than a conventional stove.

•Push a button to wash your dishes: A dishwasher actually uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Let dishes air-dry to save even more energy.

•Fill up the fridge: Having lots of food in the refrigerator keeps it from warming up too fast when the door is open.

•Turn up the thermostat: Most Inland North County homes have air conditioning. Much energy can be saved simply by setting the thermostat to 78 degrees when at home and 85 degrees or off when away. Using ceiling or room fans allows for an even higher thermostat setting because the air movement will cool the room. Always take into account health considerations and be sure to drink plenty of fluids in warm weather. Actual savings can be as much a one to three percent per degree, for each degree the thermostat is set above 72 degrees.

•Use appliances wisely:

– To help prevent electricity outages, avoid running appliances during peak hours – from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. – or anytime an electricity emergency is declared.

– Do laundry efficiently by using the warm or cold water setting for washing your clothes. Always use cold water to rinse clothes. Savings can be as much as four percent.

– When drying clothes, run full loads, use the moisture-sensing setting, and clean the clothes dryer lint trap after each use. These procedures can save up to a half-percent.

– Operate the dishwasher only when it is fully loaded, and turn off the dry cycle and air dry dishes instead – which can save up to one percent.

•Operate pool filters and cleaning sweeps efficiently: Reduce the operating time of swimming pool filters and automatic cleaning sweeps to four-to-five hours, and only during off-peak time. This can save one-to-two percent per hour of reduction.

•Eliminate wasted energy:

– Turn off appliances, lights and equipment when not in use, saving up to two percent.

– Unplug electronic devices and chargers when they aren’t in use. Most new electronics use electricity even when switched “off”, so turn computers and printers off at the power strip. These steps can save one-to-two percent.

– Unplug or recycle that spare refrigerator in the garage if it’s not really needed. This will save up to $150 per year, or 10-20 percent!

•Replace air conditioner filters: Dirty filters restrict airflow and can cause the system to run longer, increasing energy use. Replace filters monthly for maximum benefit, and a cost savings of one-to-two percent.

•Plug the leaks: Weather-strip, seal, and caulk leaky doors and windows and install foam gaskets behind outlet covers. This is inexpensive and can save an astounding two percent in energy costs.

•Install new or additional window shading: Install patio covers, awnings, and solar window screens to shade the home from the sun. For additional future savings, use strategically planted trees, shrubs and vines to shade the dwelling. This can save up to five percent.

•Seal the ducts: Leaking ductwork accounts for 25 percent of cooling costs in an average home (though this may not be applicable to newer dwellings in 92127), so have the ducts tested and have any leaks or restrictions repaired by a qualified contractor. Be aware that duct cleaning is not the same as duct sealing. In older homes, this can save as much as a 10 to 20 percent savings.

While the savings noted are only estimates and will vary by region in California, these suggestions from the California Energy Commission certainly point out the opportunities to conserve electrical resources and save money for other purposes. For additional information on cost-savings techniques, programs sponsored by the CEC, and rebates available for purchasing new appliances, visit www.consumerenergycenter.org. And more tips and information can be found at www.fypower.org.