In San Jacinto where Maria Gonzalez lives, the temperature can soar during the long summer months, making her air conditioner a seasonal necessity. However, running the air conditioner for hours in the desert community can be costly and put a strain on an electric bill.
“One summer I had a very high bill, and along with other utility bills, it was very difficult to pay them all off,” said Gonzalez, a retiree on a fixed income.
Friends at church told her about the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program which provides Southern California Edison income-qualified customers a discount of about 30 percent on monthly electric bills.
Gonzalez applied and qualified. She now gets relief from the heat and her electricity bill.
“Being on the CARE program has been a real blessing and the discount makes the bills so much more manageable, especially during the hottest parts of the year,” she said. "This is also great for seniors."
Another assistance program SCE provides to income-qualified customers, Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA), gives a 12 percent discount on monthly electric bills to qualified households of three or more.
Both CARE and FERA help eligible customers stretch their dollars to more effectively manage their utility costs with discount rates, particularly those on limited incomes or who participate in at least one of 10 government public assistance programs.
An estimated 1.2 million SCE customers are enrolled in the CARE and FERA programs. And recent changes in the income guidelines mean more SCE customers may qualify for the programs.
“SCE wants to assist customers and the CARE/FERA income-qualified programs are available to help eligible customers lower their electricity usage and monthly bill,” said Mark Wallenrod, director of Program Operations for SCE. “And the recent income-eligibility guidelines will allow SCE to serve even more eligible customers who qualify for these programs.”
Beyond CARE, Gonzalez also practices energy conservation with the help of shaded trees in her yard. She also closes windows and blinds to keep the interior of her home cool, and uses fans to circulate cool air indoors, avoiding her air conditioner for extended periods of time.
However, as a CARE participant, Gonzalez doesn’t worry when she does turn on her air conditioner.
“The program really helps,” she said. “If I don’t run the air conditioner 24/7, it makes the bills smaller and so much easier to pay. It’s also more predictable so I don’t go over my budget.”
To learn more about CARE/FERA and the new income guidelines, visit sce.com/billhelp or call 1-800-655-4555.
This summer, SCE also recommends customers proactively practice energy conservation:
- Reduce your energy use on hot summer days between 2-6 p.m. when demand reaches its peak.
- Set thermostats no lower than 78 degrees when it’s hot.
- Close drapes and blinds to keep out direct sunlight during hot periods.
- Use appliances such as dishwashers and clothes dryers during morning or evening hours.
To learn more ways to save energy and lower your bill this summer, visit sce.com/coolsavings.