Everywhere Cool Davis goes these days — online, NextDoor, in-person at the Davis Farmers Market — everyone is talking about their high energy bills. We all are experiencing the impacts of higher natural gas rates implemented last year but not felt until this winter when we turned on the heat (see our March 2022 article).  This year, winter has been colder and wetter than usual, keeping us indoors and more likely to turn on the lights, the heat, and electronic appliances.

Cool Davis has a few tips for you as you encounter another year of higher energy bills and some good news about programs to help you deal with them!

Make sure you understand your bill and your energy use!

  • What fuel source does your home use for space heating (gas or electric?)
  • Are you on time-of-use rates (TOU) or the old 2 tier system? With time-of-use you can “avoid the peak,” generally between 3pm and 9pm, and shift your energy use to lower rate time periods to reduce your bill
  • Do you quality for assistance to manage high bills? (Visit our Ways to Save page for CARE and FERA programs. PG&E CARES – Sample Bill and FAQS)
  • Have you done what you can to reduce usage? PG&E has some good online tools to help you understand your energy bill and make changes in habits and systems. Open your PG&E online account and get started.

Understand your home!

  • How old are your appliances?
  • Does your home have other energy upgrades in place like dual paned windows, additional insulation, or sealing for air leaks?
  • Do you have a programmable thermostat to help manage usage?
  • Make use of federal tax credits if you can and don’t forget about state and local rebates. After the initial investment in energy saving actions & devices, bills can come down dramatically!
  • Check out our home energy resources especially our Clean Energy Home workshop video and our Cool Davis All-Electric Planning Guide  to help you evaluate your situation. Many more links and resources at the end of this article!

Stay tuned for more Cool Davis stories of households and homeowners stabilizing their bills, make changes in their systems and habits. (Read Monica’s story about going all electric!)

For renters

When you understand your bill, home systems, and energy use, you can become an advocate for yourself and your building! Both state and local governments are planning ways to make the energy profile of the buildings we live in more public so that tenants have all the information they need to make informed decisions about where they live. Right now there are great tax credits and rebates available to property owners to conduct energy retrofits of their properties.

For property owners

Energy costs for tenants are growing! The energy profile of your property is a big factor in whether tenants can afford to live there. Both state and local governments are planning ways to make this information more public so that tenants have all the information they need to make informed decisions about where they live. Now is the time to take advantage of the new tax credits and rebates and make smart investments in the appliances and systems in rental properties.

Tax credits and rebates are here and more are coming!

Thank goodness for the new state rebates and federal tax credits helping address the challenges and changes we face with rising energy costs. New federal tax credits will be available soon to cover a whole range of home energy updates allowing you to replace old equipment with more efficient and clean systems. See links at the very bottom of this article.

These tax credits will be in place for 10 years! You have time to make a plan for replacing systems!

The systems and changes that are eligible for those tax credits and rebates include: Air Source Heat Pumps, Central Air Conditioning, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Heat Pump Water Heaters, sealing and insulation, windows, doors and skylights, smart thermostats, home energy audits, electric panel upgrades, small wind turbines, solar energy systems (hot water and roof top solar), fuel cell and battery storage.

Energy Star rebate finder. Just input your zip code to find federal, state, and local energy related tax credits and rebates.

HVAC Make a Plan Cool Davis

Changes coming to solar! Homeowners are scrambling to lock in rates!

Over 5,100 households in Davis have solar on their roofs and adoption of solar systems is going strong! Since December, homeowners and businesses have been scrambling to lock in current Net Energy Metering rates before the new rate structure is put in place in mid-April.

New solar projects must submit an application for interconnection via their solar contractor by April 14, 2023. Once that’s completed, you still have three years to get the actual project done and still be included under the Net Energy Metering 2.0 rate structure. Cool Davis Double Up on Solar campaign committee members’ companies and many other solar providers are trying to answer questions regarding the new rate structure and respond to the demand for applications in this now very short time frame.

After April 14, the rate structure will change and will favor households that opt in for battery backup systems in addition to their solar panels. Cool Davis will provide more information in future articles about these new rates and their impact on decision-making about solar as the new rate structure emerges.

More reading

Citadel Blog on NEM 3.0

Aztec Solar Blog

Cool Davis home electrification resources

All-Electric Heat Pumps FAQs (highly recommended!)

Video of Clean Energy Home workshop (ditto!) (Cool Davis Home Energy & Efficiency YouTube playlist)

Presentation: Make A Plan-Clean Energy Home Workshop Presentation Final_PDF

The Electrification Path to Our Fossil Free Future by Chris Granger

Cool Davis Home Energy webpage

Turn Off the Carbon Pump and Turn on the Heat Pump! Heat Pumps Explained in Basic Terms by Kristin Heinemeier

Cool Davis Understanding My Home Worksheet Final

Cool Davis All-Electric Planning Guide Final

Cool Davis HVAC Common Terms

Cool Davis Working w Contractors Cheat Sheet Final

Cool Davis Contractor Bid Comparison Table

Home energy incentives and more

Visit our Ways to Save webpage for utility bill assistance programs and incentives.

Read about new federal home energy incentives: Inflation Reduction Act of 2022: Actually a Climate Busting Bill by Michael Kluk

Summary of new federal home energy incentives available late in 2023:

  • Increases the credit for energy efficient home improvements such as added insulation, from 10% to 30%, and extends them through 2032.
  • Expands the credit to cover the cost of home energy audits up to $150 and electrical panel upgrades up to $600.
  • For residents that fall below 150 percent of an area’s median income, establishes a rebate program of up to $14,000 per household including $8,000 for heat pumps, $1,750 for heat pump water heaters, and $840 for electric stoves. Also includes rebates for improvements to electrical panels or wiring and home insulation or sealant.