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Conserve Energy, Save Money
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Spring seems to have sprung and summer months are just around the corner. Sometimes minor improvements and light cleaning can result in the conservation of energy and money during the warm weather months.

Modesto Irrigation District (MID) provides electrical power to some homes in the region and offered a few suggestions for making energy-saving improvements for the spring and summer.

Melissa Williams, MID Public Affairs Specialist, reported that weather is an excellent predictor of a summer electric bill. She said that air conditioning can account for half or even more of a home’s summer power use.

“There are several simple things that you can do to help save money on your electric bill,” Williams shared. “Sealing cracks around doors and windows with caulk or weather stripping is inexpensive and easy and can help you save money both in summer and winter.”

MID’s spring energy savings tips tie in with spring cleaning. One suggestion is to do a basic air-conditioner cleaning. This routine chore can pay off with summertime comfort, lower electric bills, and prolong the life of the air conditioner, too.

It’s also good to regularly wash or replace furnace and air conditioner filters. Remember to remove furniture or items that block heating vents as well.

Another tip is to check that all ceiling fans are working properly and are dust-free. During the warm months, switch the direction of the fan and draw air upward, which cools the room and ensures constant airflow.

Big appliances require attention, too. When dust and pet hair build up on refrigerator condenser coils, the motor works harder and uses more electricity. As part of a spring cleaning routine, make sure the coils are cleaned so that air can circulate freely.

“MID offers rebates for buying and installing energy-efficient products,” Williams added. “We have a wide variety of rebates that can fit any budget. Rebates can apply to air duct sealing, installing sunscreens or windows, to new air conditioners, washing machines and whole house fans.”

Some energy savings tips for summer include advice on setting the thermostat, how to avoid creating more heat in the house, and the best time to operate appliances. When it’s hot outside, keep the thermostat at 78 degrees – or higher, which is even better – when at home. When away for a few hours, set it at 85 degrees. Another suggestion is to open windows at night to allow in a cooling breeze. On super-hot days, run the air conditioner for a short time in the early morning to help to pre-cool the home. Also use fans to circulate air and help it to feel cooler but don’t run them when you’re out of the room. Install a whole-house fan and get a $100 MID Mpower rebate as a bonus.

Further avoid heat build-up indoors by keeping blinds and curtains drawn. For dinner, instead of using the oven, try a cool salad, or cook in the microwave, or grill outdoors. Run washing machines and dishwashers after 10 p.m. – some newer models have timers to make it easy. Pool owners can also save energy by running the pool pump fewer hours each day. In the summer, four to six hours is usually enough.

Williams reported that the power provider also offers its customers a service with information on how they can improve on their energy usage and costs.

“MID will come to your home or business to do an energy audit,” she said. “An energy audit can be helpful by showing you how much electricity you use, including your most and least cost-effective uses.

“MID can provide suggestions on ways to reduce your energy consumption, including no cost, low cost measures,” Williams added. “Our Energy Services team can also estimate paybacks for replacing items such as lighting or air conditioning. The customer chooses the suggestions that fit their needs and help make their home or workspace comfortable and help save energy and money.”

MID customers can e-mail or call (209) 526-7339 to schedule an energy audit.

Visit MID’s booth for more details on the MID Mpower rebates at the Eighth Annual Oakdale Chamber Home Show on Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10 at the Gene Bianchi Community Center, 110 S. Second Ave., Oakdale. Information is also available online at