Time is money, the old adage goes, but so is a well-winterized house.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. officials estimate a homeowner can reduce their monthly utility bill by 10 percent to 30 percent by taking energy-efficient measures.
PG&E has a list of energy saving tips for your home on their website.
The utility also has information on Energy Upgrade California, a program overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission that helps residents make their homes more energy efficient.
The PG&E site also takes you to the Energy Update California list of companies that will audit and rate your home for energy usage.
PG&E also lists contractors who participate in the program. Some of the contractors and audit teams are willing to work together to save time and money.
You can locate audit teams in the vicinity of Castro Valley on PG&E's site here. Two of the raters on the local list include Treece Home Sustainability Consulting and Environmental Design/Build which are both in Oakland.
Smart Builders of Hayward and Tessandori Construction of San Ramon are included on the PG&E list of area contractors. You can click here to see the full list of local contractors participating in the program.
A homeowner can sign up for the Energy Update California program and qualify for a rebate for the work done on their house.
Homeowners can also use the lists as a resource and contact the energy companies themselves.
PG&E no longer does energy audits, but the utility does have an energy savings assistance program for lower income customers. People who qualify can have a contractor inspect their home for free.
Stopping air leakages alone can take as much as 30 percent off your heating bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Check out these three tips for closing up air leaks around your home:
- First, do an energy audit of your house, keeping an eye out for the trouble spots. Windows and doors are obvious places to check, but also look at things like wall outlets and switches, plumbing vents and the attic hatch for leakage. Swaying curtains and light under your doors are sure signs, but you can find less obvious air leaks by using an infrared thermometer to check for temperature variations. Or use a lighted candle (carefully). If the flame moves, air is coming in.
- Seal the outside of windows with a good quality silicone caulk; use rope caulk on the inside (it can be removed in the spring). Or cover windows with a transparent film, using a hair dryer for adhesion. Other air leaks can be sealed with caulk or self-adhesive weather stripping.
- Installing insulation yourself is not easy, but if you have an older home, chances are you need to add more. If the insulation is level with or below the floor joists, you should add more, according to Energy Star, a joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.