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Is solar the best option to reduce your PG&E electricity bill?
What makes CutMyBill better than other solar cost and savings calculators for PG&E customers?
There are three key reasons that our PG&E solar cost and bill savings calculator is far better than any other solar calculator or solar estimate website on the net for PG&E customers;
- Firstly, whilst most solar panels calculators are really good at forecasting the electricity production you can get from installing solar panels for your home (because they all rely on the pwatts.nrel.gov solar production data) most of them just use a single generic state wide unit cost for electricity in their calculations. Our PG&E solar cost and bill savings calculator actually uses our database of each of the available PG&E electric rates plans to use more specific electricity cost data. Therefore we can generate much more accurate solar savings analysis.
- The second reason is that we use DOE (Department of Energy) electricity usage patterns for the PG&E service territory, and some very basic questions we ask you about your home to estimate how you use power over the course of a day and the seasons of the year. This allows us to accurately forecast solar savings where time of use electricity plans are available to you. We estimate your electricity usage for each hour of the year and then overlay the known production of solar panels in your area for each hour of the year. Without this level of detail solar panel cost and savings calculators on are inaccurate; and
- Lastly, before we even consider solar savings, we look for any savings that can be achieved simply by swapping to a cheaper available PG&E rate plan. Our software looks for any available PG&E rates plan that works our cheaper for your estimated usage pattern. Generally speaking savings from swapping to a cheaper PG&E rates plan are only available to those who have larger monthly electric bills but given it only takes a phone call to achieve these savings it is by far the quickest and easiest bill cutting option where it is possible.
Start your savings estimateCalculate
Will installing a solar power system or swapping rate plans save me the most on my monthly PG&E payment?
There are almost always far greater cost savings to be obtained from installing solar panels than swapping rates plans but this doesn't mean possible savings from swapping rate plans should be ignored. The other reason we search for your cheapest rate plan is that to forecast total possible savings you could get on your bill you need to take into account both savings that may be available from swapping to the cheapest rate plan and also savings that come from swapping your generation source for some of your power usage to your own solar power.
Compare savings from swapping rate plans to solar savingsCalculate
How accurate is the CutMyBill estimate of my power usage pattern?
The CutMyBill electricity usage profile estimator is a key part of the technology of why CutMyBill can forecast solar and bill swapping savings so accurately without requiring you to enter your kilowatt hour electricity usage for each month of the year or to upload 12 months worth of power bills.
The way we do this is we use electricity use profiles collected by the Department of Energy for each building type at each weather station across the PG&E service territory. Some of the characteristics of your home such as your average monthly power spend and the square footage of your home are used to refine this analysis.
This gives a fairly accurate estimate but it is not an exact estimate. The best way to get an exact estimate of your solar savings and whether or not there are possible savings from swapping rate plans is to speak to one of your local solar companies. Whilst solar companies are experts in solar they also become experts in knowing the cheapest rate plans (both before and after solar) from their local utility companies.
Estimate my power usage pattern over a day and over the seasons of the yearCalculate
There are three options that you can explore to cut your power bill as a PG&E customer.
Pro's of solar panel installation: consumers in the PG&E territory find it is often possible to save $50,000 or more by installing solar panels and get a full payback in 5-7 years on a product that will keep saving you money for 25 years or more. There are now also competitive financing options that mean most homeowners can get solar panels on a zero down loan.
Con's of installing solar solar: solar installation is a fairly big project and requires you to have enough unshaded roof space available to do it. Our calculator shows you how much roof space you need. Additionally, This bill savings option is usually not available to renters or people living in multi-family buildings (apartments or condos).
Pro's of swapping rate plans: costs nothing and is easy.
Con's of swapping rate plans: monthly savings may be quite small, but given it costs nothing and only takes an email to PG&E, why not?
Reducing electricity use through energy efficiency measures.
Pro's of energy efficiency: may be a smaller project and less costly process than solar.
Con's of energy efficiency: it may be hard to borrow money to do energy efficiency upgrades as you can for installing solar panels. It may involve retiring home appliances or HVAC equipment before the end of their useful life. Is also usually takes some investment in expert analysis before the level of savings can be determined.
Can I get a lower power bill by swapping to a different PG&E rate plan?
PG&E have a number of different rate plans available for both residential and commercial customers and each has its own rules and rates.
With PG&E phasing out tiered rate schedules then this leaves consumers with a choice of two residential time of use plans.
Our website provides a comparison of the PG&E time of use plans but the thing to remember is that when these plans are designed they are designed to offer a similar overall cost to the average consumer with average usage patterns. What this means is that if your power bill is in the range of $80 to $120 then it is likely that both of their time of use plans will come out to a similar overall cost per month.
If you spend less than this amount on power then ETOU-A with a baseline credit may offer a cheaper solution. However, the consumer that can save the most is a large user of energy as the ETOU-B rate plan becomes cheaper for larger usage.
You will find this a common theme on this website that there is little that can be done to reduce electricity costs if you electric bill is small but as usage and cost increases savings can become significant.
Even for larger users the amount that you can save by installing solar panels will be much more than what you can save by swapping rate plans. However, swapping rate plans is so easy that it is worth doing even if the savings are small.
How much can you save by swapping your PG&E rate planCalculate
How much can I lower my power bill through adopting energy efficiency measures?
As with swapping rate plans the amount you can save by adopting energy efficiency measures will vary greatly with the amount of energy you currently use. The bigger your current energy use the greater the scope for savings.
When I consider energy efficiency measures I like to break them up into:
- Energy efficiency measures that affect lifestyle; and
- Energy efficiency measures that don't affect lifestyle
What are energy efficiency measures that affect your lifestyle?
Obviously we can all make a conscious decision to use less energy but many of these measures will have a materially negative effect on your quality of life. We can sit in a hot living room in summer rather than turning on the air conditioner, we can hang our clothes outside to dry rather than using a clothes dryer.
However, with most energy bill analysis it is only possible to do a sensible estimate of possible savings from energy efficiency if we assume a constant.
How to calculate savings from energy efficiency measures?
The Department of Energy has developed a series of energy efficiency savings calculators that allow you to calculate the amount of money you could save broken down into the major categories of appliances that use power such as:
- Clothes washing and drying
- Food preparation and dish washing
You can use these calculators here.
These calculators can be used to calculate savings that can be achieved by using these devices less frequently (lifestyle changes) and also savings that can be achieved by using more efficient versions of each of these appliances.
Find more about Pacific Gas and Electric Co (PG&E) electric rate plans.