To help lower the risk of possible natural gas and electricity shortages this winter, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) recently announced the launch of a new energy conservation alert program designed to raise awareness about ways Southern Californians can reduce their natural gas use during periods of cold weather this winter.
SoCalGas began issuing “Dial It Down” Alerts Dec. 1, during periods of cold weather when local demand for natural gas for home heating, hot water, and cooking can increase rapidly and put a strain on the natural gas system. Dial It Down Alerts are similar to the Flex Alerts issued by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) that call on customers to conserve electricity for a specific period of time. If a Dial It Down Alert is issued this winter, SoCalGas will determine the duration of the conservation effort and will announce when the alert has ended.
“SoCalGas has helped pioneer conservation efforts for decades, and our efforts to date have saved our customers more than $670 million in energy costs and have reduced emissions equal to removing 700,000 cars from the road,” said Dan Rendler, director of customer programs and assistance at SoCalGas. “The new Dial It Down Alerts and our ongoing work to deploy more smart thermostats across our service territory will help promote energy reliability, save customers money, and reduce emissions linked to climate change.”
To initiate a Dial It Down Alert, the utility will release a media statement and deploy messages through social media and on the radio calling on customers to reduce their natural gas use during peak usage periods. When a Dial It Down Alert is called, customers can take simple steps to reduce their natural gas use, such as:
– Setting their thermostat to 68 degrees when you are home and 55 degrees when you are not home.
– Waiting until off-peak hours to use natural gas appliances;
– Washing clothes with cold water;
– Taking shorter hot showers;
– Reducing the temperature on water heaters;
– Running only full loads of dishes and clothes;
– Using low-flow shower heads;
– Keeping windows and doors closed when the heater is on; and
– Dressing warmer.
To further encourage energy conservation this winter, SoCalGas will launch the SoCalGas Smart Therm Program later this month. The Smart Therm Program is a partnership between the utility and participating ENERGY STAR Certified Smart Thermostat providers. Customers who enroll in the Smart Therm Program agree to allow their smart thermostat to be automatically adjusted by up to four degrees when energy conservation is needed. In addition to the energy savings associated with the lower thermostat setting, customers who enroll in the program will receive a $50 incentive, plus an additional $25 for staying enrolled through April 1, 2019. To enroll in the program, customers register their smart thermostats through the manufacturer’s website. They are then sent notifications through their smart thermostat, smart phone app, or over email ten to 12 hours before a Dial It Down Alert is issued, letting them know that their thermostats will be automatically adjusted.
In addition to the SoCalGas Smart Therm Program incentive, customers who purchase a smart thermostat can save an additional $75 by applying for a smart thermostat rebate from SoCalGas. The rebate covers models from Nest, ecobee, Honeywell, and others. To learn more or to participate in SoCalGas’ Residential Rebate Program, visit socalgas.com/rebates.
Thanks to energy efficiency measures and new innovative technologies, residential buildings account for only about 5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions statewide, according to the California Air Resources Board. SoCalGas offers more than 90 energy efficiency programs that have delivered $161 million in cost savings directly to its customers over the past five years.
SoCalGas is a leader in researching and developing new technologies that improve energy efficiency, reduce emissions, and keep bills affordable for customers. The utility is also working to increase the production and use of renewable natural gas, which turns methane emissions into a source of clean and renewable energy to fuel homes and businesses. Learn more about the environmental and cost-saving benefits of renewable natural gas by viewing the utility’s latest video, Digesting the Facts About Renewable Natural Gas, on SoCalGas’ YouTube Channel.
Natural gas is the most affordable, reliable, clean, and increasingly renewable energy choice for home and water heating and cooking in Southern California and is used by more than 90 percent of residents in the region. According to the American Gas Association (AGA), across the country, households that use natural gas for water and space heating, cooking, and clothes drying save an average of $874 per year compared to homes using electricity for those applications.
More information on SoCalGas’ Dial It Down Alert energy conservation program can be found at socalgas.com/dialitdown.