San Diego Gas & Electric says customer demand up due to cold weather; offers conservation tips

Jan 16, 2007

Media Contact:
Denise King

San Diego Gas & Electric

(877) 866-2066


        SAN DIEGO, Jan. 16, 2007 – Record-low temperatures throughout the region have resulted in the increased use of home furnaces to stay warm.  San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) reminds its customers they may see higher gas bills this month as a result.

        “Because of the colder-than-normal weather over the past few days, customer demand for natural gas is forecast to increase by 20 percent in January over the same period last year,” said Michelle Mueller, vice president of customer services for SDG&E.  “While usage is up due to the cold weather, natural gas prices this winter are 32 percent lower than they were last year at this time.  So, while bills likely will rise as a result of usage, the increase will be mitigated by the reduced cost of natural gas.”

        SDG&E reports that its residential and small business customers used an average 371 million cubic feet of natural gas per day over the three-day holiday, as compared with 318 million cubic feet per day last year for the same time period – an increase of 17 percent.  The increase of 53 million cubic feet per day is enough energy to heat 1,100 homes for a year, according to the utility.

        SDG&E offers customers these tips to help manage their winter gas bills:
           • When using the home furnace, lower the thermostat 3 degrees to 5 degrees (health permitting) and turn it off when not at home.  This can help save up to 20 percent on heating costs.

           • Up to 40 percent of a home’s heat loss takes place due to inadequate attic and wall insulation.  Upgrade insulation to save up to 25 percent on heating costs.

           • Have air ducts tested for leaks.  Seal any leaks and save up to 20 percent on winter heating costs.

           • Check the furnace filter monthly and clean or replace it, per manufacturer’s recommendations, to save up to 2 percent on heating costs.

           • Caulk and weather-strip drafty doors and windows to save up to 5 percent on heating costs.
           • Use an extra blanket and turn down the furnace thermostat at night as the weather turns cooler.

           • Use cold or cool water when washing clothes to save up to 10 percent on hot-water costs.

           • Run the dishwasher only when full.

        For eligible customers with limited income, SDG&E offers a 20-percent rate discount on monthly gas and electric bills through the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program and free energy-saving home improvements, including repair or replacement of qualifying home furnaces, through the Energy Team, and a one-time grant amount of up to $200 per customer through the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program.

        For more information, visit SDG&E’s Web site at, or call SDG&E toll-free at (800) 411-SDGE (7433). 

        SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.3 million electric meters and more than 825,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties.  The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles.  Exceptional customer service is a priority of SDG&E as it seeks to enhance the region’s quality of life.  SDG&E is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE).  Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company.