energy saving tips

What has SJVCEO been up to in March

Spring has sprung SJVCEO into energy efficiency projects as well as being on the road for community outreach events. We are glad to be staying busy and collecting energy savings for our partners.

With the VIEW Partnership our team has been hitting the pavement to make visits to all of our partners via lunch and learns. This new meeting format allows us to sit down with those that work day to day on city infrastructure to discuss the partnerships value and what their energy needs may be. So far we are happy to say that the new format is working well and projects are coming through the pipeline. The partnership is also busy with the planning of outreach events that will take place in late spring to fall. Please make sure to stay tuned to our community outreach page on the View the Savings website.

For our HDR Partnership we are busy making sure our partners receive necessary information and applications for the Southern California Edison streetlight program. This program has been a hot ticket item for many local governments. We hope to be able to share some energy saving updates with our readers as soon as the projects are completed. Also, the partnership is busy putting together a few educational workshop for those in the community. We are still nailing down final topics of interest so please stay tuned!

On top of the partnership work that SJVCEO our METU Program and grant work has been keeping us busy as well. METU is busy at work benchmarking the City of Arvin as well as the beginning the process with the City of Corcoran. We hope to have project updates in next months update. SJVCEO is lucky enough to have been awarded with one of the POM Wonderful Community Grants in the City of Avenal. Our work in the city is focused on enrolling homes into energy saving programs as well as showcasing behavior change techniques to implement in households. So far the outcome and response from the community has been great. We hope the success continues.

That is all for this month. Make sure to stay tuned for next months update!

5 Easy Ways to Minimize Waste in Your Home

There are so many items we use in our everyday lives that, while small, add so much waste to the landfill every year. I’ve found some replacements and hope that you will give these a whirl in your own home!

The Laundry Room
Image result for wool dryer balls will get you crafting!
I’ve been using dryer sheets for years. They make my clothes so soft! However, while there may be several uses for them, I think it’s time to try a new reusable product that I won’t have to throw away week after week, load after load. How about a wool dryer ball? They’re an all-natural (read: no chemicals!) laundry softener that shorten dryer time, remove pet hair and soften fabrics. You can put as many as you want in your dryer depending on size of load and you won’t have to throw them out after one or two uses!

If you’re feeling crafty, you can easily make your own with very few items! Will you try this?

The Vanity
Most ladies use eye makeup remover and whether you use pre-soaked pads or a tissue or cotton ball with a liquid or cream remover, you’re throwing something away every day. S.W. Basics of Brooklyn has solved this issue! They make reusable and washable cotton rounds that come with their own mini laundry bag. For just over $20, you get 8 pads, giving you an extra pad for laundry day and a mesh bag for the pads so you don’t lose them in your washing machine. They’re made from certified organic cotton and they get pretty stellar reviews. The company has estimated that these 8 little pads eliminate about $50 worth of disposable cotton from going to landfill. That’s over 20 bags of cotton balls! How great is that?

The Shower
It's like candy for your body and hair!
Photo source: My Chic Sweetness
All of us go through a few bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash each year. Do you ever wonder how you might reduce this kind of waste, recyclable bottles or not? Lush is a British company that prides itself on having fresh, unpackaged and handmade cosmetics. Their shampoo bars are not only beautiful and wonderfully scented, but just one will last for about 80 shampoos!! They have solid conditioning bars and beautiful and moisturizing soaps, too. Go to a store near you and see what all the fuss is about. The little to no packaging as well as the freshness of all ingredients used will be hard to pass up.

The Floors
Do you love your Swiffer? I thought you might. They’re pretty great and so easy to use. Those disposable pads on the bottom pose a problem, though. Like makeup remover pads and dryer sheets, they add up and fill your trash. I have an easy solution for you, though. Buy a reusable and washable microfiber pad instead of box after box of disposable wipes. They work just as well and rinse super easily; plus, they can go right in the washing machine when they get extra dirty.

The Kitchen
Stop storing items in Ziploc bags and Saran wrap. These are some of the most wasteful items partly because you can’t even recycle them. Instead use glass containers with lids; they’re durable, washable and come in every size. If you still want a sandwich bag for your PB&J sandwich or your toiletries when you travel, consider buying some from Blue Avocado instead! They, too, are reusable and washable. Plus, they’re pretty cute and versatile!

My verdict: I’m definitely making the switch to these items! Will you? What’s your favorite reusable item you use in your everyday life?

Summer Savings

It’s that time of year again… school’s out for summer!

Now that the kids are home for the next few months, you might see your energy bill increase especially on those really hot days when you need to be inside running the AC. No one likes to pay more on their energy bill, so I’m here to share some tips with you so you can keep cool, enjoy the family being together again and save money.

Leaving town? I’ll share some tips for the vacationers out there, too, so you can come home to a lower utility bill.

Don't you love the smell of air dried clothes in summer?
Photo Source: Mother Earth News
Staying home?
  • Set your thermostat as high as possible, while maintaining comfort. We suggest 78 degrees Fahrenheit while you’re in your home. Leaving to see a movie or head to the pool? Turn off the AC completely or put it well above 78 degrees. You may be too warm for comfort when you initially come home, but the AC will kick in quickly and you won’t be unnecessarily running an energy-intensive machine. A programmable thermostat will make it easier to set your temperatures throughout the year.
  • Does it cool off at night where you live? If it does, turn off your AC completely and open the windows. You’ll get a fresh breeze and you won’t be paying anything for your cooling system while you sleep!
  • Turn off fans when you leave a room. Fans cool the air right in front of it, but if you’re not there to enjoy the breeze, the energy used to run the fan is wasted.
  • Use the oven as little as possible on hot days. Grill or use the stovetop.
  • Use other large appliances like washers, dryers and dishwashers only when full. Also, make sure to run them at night when your home is already a little cooler. If you have the capacity, dry your clothes outside so you don’t have to use the clothes dryer at all!
  • Decrease the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit; you likely won’t use as much hot water in the summer as it is and this will allow you to save that energy.
  • Use weatherstripping or caulk around your windows and doors; this will prevent warm air coming in and cold air going out.
  • Keep blinds and curtains closed during the day. This will help your cooling system be more efficient.

  • Turn off all lights, inside and out. If you feel safer leaving a light on, make sure it’s on a timer so it’s only on when necessary, or from dusk till dawn.
  • Close blinds and curtains.
  • Unplug all electronics and any small appliances like microwaves, toasters, hairdryers, etc.
  • Turn off your water heater if possible. If you can’t turn it off completely, turn it down to the lowest possible setting.
  • Turn off your cooling system. Some programmable thermostats have vacation settings that will allow you to control the temperature of your home while you’re away.
  • Turn off all fans.
  • Unplug when you leave for more savings!
    Photo Source: Reglobe
  • Clear all food out of the refrigerator, clean it and unplug it. Fridges use an immense amount of energy and this can be a good time to save a little money on the energy it uses and get it sparkling again!

 How are you saving energy this summer?

How to Save More Energy At Home

There are many ways to conserve energy, resulting in a lower utility bill and a happier Mother Earth. At Modernize, we are thrilled to see more homeowners use more energy efficient appliances, building materials, and tools to help conserve energy. Here’s a round-up of the best energy saving options that you can implement in your home.

One of the easiest things that you can start doing today to save energy is to turn off the faucet in the kitchen and bathroom when you are not actively using the water. Whether you are brushing your teeth or measuring out cups of water for a recipe, the time in between the task will add up to substantial savings.

Set a timer for your shower. My greatest eco-sin is my love for a long, hot shower. As the mom of a little one, the shower becomes a great escape from answering all of the questions that an inquisitive toddler can throw at me. Still, I know I can let too much time slip away as precious hot water spirals down the drain. I have started setting a timer, just like I do when my kid takes a bath. For both of us, the ding of the timer means bath time is over.

Installing a low-flow showerhead is a great alternative for those who just cannot sacrifice the long shower, although using a low-flow showerhead in addition to limiting your shower time is the ideal conservation goal.

Energy Star Appliances
When it is time to purchase new appliances, look for those labeled with the Energy Star logo. These appliances use considerably less energy than the ones they are replacing. You will be pleased with your utility bills when you notice how much you’ve saved. Additionally, you may save even more money on the appliances if you research rebates for the energy-efficient models. Be sure to keep the temperature in your refrigerator between 20 and 42 degrees for maximum savings.
It’s a costly investment, but new windows are a huge energy saver. Look for U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) numbers when shopping for new windows. The U-factor measures the window’s rate of heat loss. When looking at the U-factor you want a lower number. The lower the number the better the insulating properties. SHGC measure a window’s ability to block heat from the sun.  With SHGC the ratings are between 0 to 1 and the lower the number the heat that is transmitted. Depending on your region, one may have more importance than the other. If new windows are not in your budget anytime soon, take a weekend to add weather stripping and window films to increase energy efficiency for the time being.Many utilities within California offer energy saving assistance programs that help weatherize your home. If you are interested you can click the links provided to see if you are eligible. PG&E, SCE, SCG

Simple Tips
Keep your heat as low as you can stand it in the winter and as high as you can handle in the spring. This is much easier for me to do in the winter when I can wear layers and get cozy under blankets. In the summertime, my best bet is to leave my house so I can turn the air conditioner temperature up and take advantage of air conditioned stores in public places like the library or a shopping mall. The latter is not recommended for saving money.
Unplug everything when not in use. Make this task easier by using power strips so you only have to unplug one outlet for several devices. Charge all of your phones, tablets, and other rechargeable items at the same time, so you can unplug the power strip for the remainder of the day.  It may seem like a hassle to unplug things like your coffee maker or hair styling tools, but if you’re serious about saving energy and money, these small tasks will add up quickly.
5 More Easy Energy Savers
-   Replace standard bulbs with CFLs that can be recycled when they burn out.
-   Use home-automation products to control lighting and other electronics.
-   Decorate your home with a combination of sheer drapes to allow the sun in during winter months, or blackout curtains in the summer to keep your home from overheating from the sun.
-   Raise the thermostat and cool your room at a lower cost with ceiling fans.
-   Wash full loads in laundry machines and dishwashers. 
* Note: This article was written by Stephanie Sylvester from *

EE Tip From Fig & Olive: Laundry Day

Olive says, "in our house we wait until we have a FULL load of laundry before washing in order to help save energy. In addition, we like to use cooler water settings, hang clothes to dry when possible, and if we do dry we make sure not to over dry or else mommy's pants get too tight...oh, and it saves energy and money! Now, who wants to help me fold?!"

Money Money: 10 ways to save on heating bills

California has been having an extended summer, especially here in the San Joaquin Valley where we've been experiencing 95+ degree temperatures into October, so late last week I got ready for work and put on a sundress.  To my surprise it had rained and my car--which of course was just washed the day before--was wet! 

Hmm, perhaps the sundress was a poor choice?

The quick turn to real fall weather got me to thinking about the impending winter, and since my job is what it is my thoughts immediately turned to my winter energy bills and what I can do now to save this winter.  

Here are 10 things you can do right now to help lower your energy costs this winter:

1. Check Your Insulation. If you haven‘t looked in your attic lately (or ever!) then get up there and take a look around to make sure the insulation is in good condition. Make sure there are enough air pockets to trap cold air. Old insulation can become brittle and ineffective so if your insulation is not doing the job it might be worth the time and energy to replace it.

2. Check Your Windows. You can lose a lot of heat through the cracks around your windows and the windows themselves. Check each window and make sure it is well sealed. You can buy kits that will help you test this. Be sure to caulk and seal around windows where you find leaks, and replace any interior seals that are damaged. If your windows are old, it might be worth the money in the long run to replace them with new triple pane replacement windows.

3. Weather Proof Your Entryways. Along with the windows, check your doors for drafts. Using weather stripping around the doors will help keep your heat from leaking out and the cold from getting in. 

4. Get a Ceiling Fan. Just like you learned in 4th grade - heat rises so you want to keep the warm air down in the room, especially if you have high ceilings. Most ceiling fans have a switch to reverse the direction so you can use them for cooling in the summer and pushing hot air down in the winter. Be sure you run it in the right direction or you might end up with cold air in the winter and warm in the summer!

5. Shut Off Unused Rooms. If you have a room or rooms that you don‘t use, keep the doors shut. Try to remember to shut doors if you will be in the room for a long time. Rooms which are used only sometimes will have the door fanned which allows cold air to escape into your others rooms. This, in turn, will make your furnace work harder and increase your heating costs.

6. Let The Sun Shine In. On sunny days, open your curtains and mini blinds but make sure you close them when darkness falls or on cloudy days. Getting insulated curtains can help keep out drafts from around the windows.

7. Get A Door Alignment. Over time, doors can sag and get out of alignment. Take a good look at your doors to see if they still fit in the casing properly. If they don‘t then adjust them for a tight fit.

8. Have Your Furnace Checked. Spend the money to have a professional give your furnace a checkup to be sure it is working at peak performance. This is important not only from a cost perspective but also from a safety perspective. A system that is not running as efficiently as it can cost you money in heating bills so the money to have it inspected will be well spent.

9. Change Your Air Filter. Air filters can get clogged with ends up costing you money in fuel - it causes your heating system to run inefficiently and can be a safety hazard. Changing out the filter once a year is a good idea and something you can do yourself with minimal cost.

10. Close Your House Vents. House vents allow circulation of air during the warmer months but it’s a good idea to close them at the end of fall before the real cold weather comes. Cold air seeping in can drive up heating costs and make your house feel drafty. (Best not to use a cat to close the vents, but in a pinch it will work!) 

Taking the time to follow a few of these tips will result in lower heating bills. Also, check out your energy providers’ web site for suggestions on how to practice energy efficiency and save money at the same time.

For those in the San Joaquin Valley ere are links to PG&E, Southern California Edison, and Southern California Gas Company. All three sites have great suggestions on saving energy. Of course, you can always find energy and money savings tips over on our website for VIEW the Savings! 

--Dee Cox

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Energy efficiency ad campaign launched

The U.S. Department of Energy and the Ad Council haved teamed to launch a national campaign designed to help consumers save money on utility bills.

This one is simply called "Cliff" and shows in a very stark way what consumers throw away when they don't take advantage of energy efficiency opportunities in their homes. Some of it is as simple as lighting retrofits and weatherization. Other fixes may cost more.

The second, "Oven," highlights the fact that incandescent bulb throw off a good amount of heat. They cook a chicken in a bulb oven. In Fairbanks, back in the early 1970s, my friend's dad heated a chicken coop with a single bulb, enabling those poor chickens to survive nights of 50 below.

The videos were created pro bono by Texas-based advertising agency GSD&M.

"Americans spend about $2,000 per household on energy every year — but many of them could save a few hundred of that without changing their lifestyle," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a statement. "Many American families can take simple steps to reduce their energy bill, while making their homes more comfortable, and use that money for something they really need or want."

19 tips to save energy and keep cool this summer

Summer's here in the San Joaquin Valley that means one thing.

It's hot. And it definitely means people will be looking to cool off by turning up their air conditioning systems. That costs money. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers this little fact: The average home spends almost 20 percent of its utility bill on cooling.

We've collected some tips on how to keep cool without paying a fortune in increased energy bills.

Here is the EPA's annual list of ideas to cut energy and cooling costs:

1) Change out incandescent light bulbs. Energy Star lighting uses less energy and produces about 75 percent less heat than incandescent, reducing cooling bills, too.

2) Install a programmable thermostat and set it to work around your family’s summer schedule -- a few degrees higher, say 78 or 80 degrees, when no one is home, so your cooling system isn’t cooling an empty house.

3) Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze. If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. But don't run them if you're not in the room.

4) Pull the curtains and shades closed or move container trees and plants in front of sun-exposed windows to serve as shade.

5) Use a microwave instead of an oven to cook. Ovens take longer to cook food and can make your house warmer, requiring your AC system to work harder.

6) Check your cooling system’s air filter every month.

7) Get duct work fixed so it doesn't leak. For more information, go to

Here are some additional tips from the California Energy Commission:

1) Turn your thermostat to 78 degrees when at home and 85 degrees when away.

2) Cut your cooling costs by opening windows when it's cooler outside than inside. In the morning, close up the house to trap the coolness inside.

3) Eliminate wasted energy. Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms and unplug or recycle that spare refrigerator in the garage if you don't truly need it.

4) Use appliances efficiently. Do only full loads when using your dishwasher and clothes washer. Run your appliances during off peak hours or after the sun goes down. When replacing these appliances, buy Energy Star products. They save up to 30 percent over standard models.

5) Stop vampire power. Many new TVs, DVD players, chargers, computer peripherals and other electronics use electricity even when they are switched off. They add up to over 50 watts in a typical home that are consumed all the time. Unplug or install switchable eco-strips.

6) Operate pool filters and cleaning sweeps efficiently. Look at the operating hours for your swimming pool filter and automatic cleaning sweep if your pool has one. Shorten the operating time if possible and switch pool filter and sweeper operations to off-peak hours.

7) Keep air conditioner outside unit clear so air can circulate freely. And tune it up regularly.

8) Install low flow shower heads to cut hot water costs.

9) Install a whole house fan. These are used after sundown when the outside temperature drops below 80 degrees and in the early morning.

10) Increase ceiling insulation. Consider increasing insulation to up to R-38 to reduce heating costs by 5 percent to 25 percent.

11) Consider replacing your old air conditioner with an more efficient unit, SEER 13 or greater. New units can save up to 40 percent compared with older models.

12) Add high efficiency windows to reduce cooling costs by up to 15 percent.