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One Person Can Make A Difference!

The world runs on energy. Whether driving the car to work or using electricity to heat the house, people consume energy. Even pumping water to the faucet in your home consumes electricity! In the last century, we have become increasingly dependent upon energy, specifically fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Unfortunately, use of fossil fuels to produce energy has not been without serious environmental effects. It is now common knowledge that as fossil fuels are burned to produce electricity, pollutants are released into the atmosphere. Moreover, maintaining adequate supply of non-renewable energy sources over the long term is a concern, while the monetary cost for these non-renewables continues to increase. The residential and commercial building sectors are the largest consumers of energy in the U.S, accounting for 40% of U.S. primary energy consumption (with the industrial and transportation sectors following). In Orange, the commercial sector accounted for 68% of energy consumption in the City, with the residential sector at 28%. Energy applied to cooling and heating buildings is the largest component of building energy consumption, with operation of lights, electronics and water heaters also contributing substantially. Lowering your daily demand for energy will reduce the amount of energy generated from fossil fuels, thus reducing the amount of pollution that you produce. So, save energy, go green, and save some money on your electricity bill too! Some of the best ideas won’t cost you a penny! Check out our energy efficiency tips, rebate information, and tax incentives which can help!

Want to know more about energy use in Orange?

Energy Efficiency Tips

  • Stay cool! – Keep your window shades drawn during the day. It helps insulate your home, regulating household temperatures. You can also apply window film or tinting to minimize the heat gain.
  • Breathe easier…Go plant a tree! – Planting shade trees around the house (especially along the southern sun-facing wall) can improve your home's curb appeal and its value while buffering it from the heat. Shade trees save you from running your air conditioning, which can translate into big savings on your electricity bill! If you don’t have room for a tree, consider mechanical shade devices, awnings or shade structures, such as an arbor or trellis.
  • Let it blow! – In southern California, we're blessed with a moderate climate. Open windows and use fans instead of air conditioning. Install ceiling fans for a decorative alternative.
  • Insulate your wallet! – Sealing cracks, replacing windows and upgrading or adding insulation to your attic and walls adds up in the long run. Insulating your attic (with R-30 or higher) and walls (with R-13 or higher) are often affordable do-it-yourself cost-saving measures. Little things like replacing your door seal or caulking around outlets will reduce drafts in winter and heat gain in summer. Finally, replacing inefficient windows with newer, low-E models will help regulate a comfortable year-round household temperature, while saving you at least 15% on your energy bill.

Remember:_ True insulating is a whole building project. You’ll see dramatic differences in results between making a couple of changes versus insulating the whole building.

  • Solar safety! – Install solar-powered motion-sensing or photosensitive porch, walkway, and entry lighting for home safety and access.

  • Size matters! – If you own or are planning to buy an air conditioner or evaporative cooler, bigger is not better! Oversized units are inefficient, frequently turning off and on. Consult an expert, and buy and appropriate sized unit. Remember to look for energy saving models.

  • Cool technology! – "Cool" technology for roof tile, shingles, metal roofing, siding, pavers, and paint can increase reflectivity and reduce indoor temperatures. If you're doing an upgrade, ask about "cool" materials. They now come in a variety of colors too!
  • Radiant ideas... – Installing durable radiant barriers (aluminum foil backing) to roof rafters and roof decking can greatly reduce heat gain. A radiant barrier can cut energy costs in hot climates by as much as 8 to 12% per year(Florida Solar Energy Center).
  • Ahhh!!! Sunny California! – With so much sun, why not put it to good use? In fact, there are a number of solar solutions for households. Solar attic fans are a simple solution for cooling homes. Solar water heaters or panels are a common practice for heating pools but can also be applied to everyday home use. (They're cheaper than Photovoltaic!) Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are a great way to power your home. Moreover, any excess energy they produce can be sold back to Southern California Edison! PV can be a substantial investment, so do your homework. It is always a good idea to read-up on the subject, use a certified installer to identify your home’s needs, ask a lot of questions, and get at least three quotes. Also, check our rebates and read up on federal tax incentives that can help! If you're considering installing panels, be sure to check with your City Planning Division at (714) 744-7220.
Important:_ When evaluating the cost-benefit of PV, remember actuating (moving) solar panels, which follow the sun, will maximize return. Fixed panels will not save you as much money in the long run.
  • Off-to-Market! – When shopping for appliances and electronics, always look for the energy efficient models. Most major brands offer a selection. More importantly, they often pay for themselves without sacrificing quality, features or the environment. Check our rebates for help! According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average U.S. home spends about $1,900 on energy costs each year. Energy Star products can save consumers at least $80 per year. Recent trends in the cost of power may further add to your savings.
Note:_ Energy efficient models can be identified by the Energy Star Symbol.
  • Maintenance is key! – Perform routine maintenance on your household electronic devices, including (but not limited to) filter or vent cleaning and replacement, and household dusting. Excess dust and debris can lead to inefficient machine function, unnecessary household heat gain, and reduced lifespan of the equipment. Clean your refrigerator coils at least once every six months to increase its efficiency. Always leave room from the wall when putting it back in place. If the doors have trouble sealing, try cleaning the doorjamb, or replace it if it’s time. It’s easy to overlook the small things, so you may want to make a maintenance schedule. Consult your user manuals as necessary.
  • Flip the switch! – Turn-off unused lights. Unscrew bulbs in areas where they are not needed. Switch to compact florescent lighting (CFLs). CFL’s use 75% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and last up to 10 times longer. Consider installing occupancy sensors, so you don’t have to remember to turn off the lights. Making the switch? Our rebates can help!
Don't forget:_ CFL’s are considered a hazardous waste due to trace amounts of mercury in the bulbs. When replacing used CFL’s, always follow hazardous disposal requirements. Go to Orange’s Waste Reduction page for more information.

Did you know?_ You can prevent 500 pounds of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions a year just by adjusting your thermostat_2° lower in the winter and 2° higher in the summer? Turn the switch and make a difference.
  • Hot ideas for your water heater! – Turn the thermostat down to 120° f (49° c). Insulate hot water pipes, and use a water heater blanket. When you replace your old water heater, look into tankless, on-demand water heaters. Our rebates can help!

  • Have you seen the yard? – You can save quite a bit of money by running your air conditioner only when you have to. So when it's hot, spend more time outside on porches, patios and shaded lawns.
  • Who needs a pilot? – Turn-off your furnace pilot light during cool season (and when on vacation). This gives you a reason to check that it’s clean before starting in the cool season. Replace your furnace with a new model. Electronic ignition is the way to go.
  • BBQ anyone? – Use a BBQ and microwave oven as much as possible during the summer to minimize heat gain in the house. Try to do your baking at night when it’s cooler. Use the exhaust fan when cooking. Always, replace old worn-out gas stoves with models with electronic ignition switches.
  • Fresh ideas... – Heating water uses energy! Use cold and warm water settings when doing the wash. Wash your clothes at night during off-peak hours. It’s always good to replace old energy-hog models. Our rebates can help!
  • Stay dry! – Don’t take a bath on you energy bill! Use your clothes dryer less. Hang clothes to dry, or dry larger loads. Remember to keep the house cool by closing-off the utility door from the rest of the house.
  • Ahhh..Dish duty – Consider hand washing or turn-off the dryer option when using a dishwasher. Its always a good idea to use a wash sink (or tub) and rinse side (or tub) to save on waste water. At the least, try to turn-off running water while scrubbing.
  • Just a splash – When taking a shower, turn the temperature down and take shorter showers. Open a window or run an exhaust fan to reduce excess heat in the house. Using efficient showerheads can help simulate a shorter shower, reducing the heat required by your water heater.
  • Use it or lose it ($) – Using power strips is a great way to protect your electronics (TV, video machines, gaming devices, radios, computers, etc.)and control unnecesary energy waste. By plugging into a strip and turning your electronics off and on from the strip, you will dramatically reduce the energy that is wasted when you're not using your equipment. However, be sure to plug your DVR into the wall or an active strip, so you don't lose your programs. When buying new equipment, it's always good to purchase energy efficient models.
  • Cover it up! – For you pool owners, look into buying pool covers. They can help you maintain the perfect temperature with minimal use of a heater. Plus, a cover will save you hundreds on chemical maintenance.
  • Make your bed! – If you have a waterbed, insulate it by making the bed each day, thereby reducing heat loss. This could save you up to one-third of the energy it uses.
Note:_ Some of these suggestions can be reversed during the winter to increase indoor temperature without using your heater. For example, cooking with the stove during the winter adds a little heat to the house while preparing your meals.

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Rebate Information

Electricity is offered to Orange residents through Southern California Edison (SCE). You may be eligible for SCE rebates, services or incentive programs. SCE has the most successful portfolio of energy efficiency and demand response programs in California. They have a lengthy list of credits, rebates and other incentives, which have saved more than 4 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) over the last five years. For more information on energy incentives and rebates, visit Southern California Edison’s Rebates and Savings web pages. Here's a quick summary to get you started!

Did you know?_ Some energy efficient upgrades like solar panels, upgraded water heaters, electrical and HVAC upgrades require City building permits.

Starting July 1, 2009, the City of Orange is offering "priority" permit processing for eligible "green upgrades". In many cases, this will mean over-the-counter building permits! Visit our "What is the City Doing to Help?” page to find out more.

While reviewing your rebate options and considering energy saving upgrades for your project, visit the Orange’s Energy Efficiency Services (EES) Portal. Launched in 2010, this program offers energy savings calculators to help you measure the actual energy efficiency improvement from old equipment to new, so you know the true value of your purchase. Once your project is complete, you can assist future Energy-Savers by completing a voluntary survey. Your information will assist Orange in tracking City-wide savings. Thanks for making a difference!

Start with one of SCE's online residential energy surveys!

Let SCE help you save on your monthly expenses by providing you with a customized report for saving energy, water and money in your home. To begin, call (800) 278-8585, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Then cash in on SCE rebates! Check out these rebates for lighting, applicances, heating/cooling and pool equipment.


Change out your lamps! SCE's Operation Light Exchange allows residential customers to exchange halogen torchiere floor lamps and incandescent floor/table/desk lamps/night lights for new Energy Star labeled lamps.


Buying a new fridge? You can get a $35 or $75 rebate by buying an ENERGY STAR® qualified refrigerator! (The refrigerator must be for primary use in the home.)

Are you thinking about going solar? If so, checkout the incentives for solar systems at California Solar Initiative. The incentive for residential customers is called the Expected Performance Based Buydown (or EPBB). It's a one-time rebate based on the system's expected performance. Expected performance is based on a number of factors including the CEC-AC system rating, size of the system, and amount of sunshine received (i.e. panel location and orientation). The rebate is paid in dollars per watt. In 2009, the EPBB rebate is $2.20 per watt. The PBI rebate is $0.34 per kWh. Get the most up-to-date solar incentive rate information. To talk to a program administrator, contact SCE at csigroup@sce.com or by phone at 1-800-799-4177.

Note, EPBB currently applies to systems with less than a 50kW capacity. In 2010, EPBB will apply to systems with less than a 30 kW capacity. For systems that exceed the EPBB capacity requirements, the Performance Based Incentive (or PBI) program applies. The PBI pays out an incentive based on actual kWh production over a period of five years. The rebate is a five-year stream of fixed monthly payments (provided on a dollars per KWh basis) determined by the actual output of the system, as metered and reported to the utility.

The program dictates that rebate amounts will decrease over time, so act now! Want more information on going-solar in California

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Tax Incentives


In addition to SCE incentives, state and federal tax incentives are also available for installing home energy efficiency upgrades. Here's a summary to get you started. For the most up to date information, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, which tracks all State and Federal incentives throughout the United States.

State Property Tax Exemption for Solar!

The California Revenue and Taxation Code allows a property tax exclusion for certain types of solar energy systems installed between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2016. (This section was amended in 2008 to include the construction of a solar energy system in a new building that the owner-builder does not intend to occupy or use.) The tax exemption applies to solar space conditioning systems, solar water heating systems, active solar energy systems, solar process heating systems, photovoltaic (PV) systems, and solar thermal electric systems, and solar mechanical energy. Solar pool heating systems and solar hot-tub-heating systems are not eligible. The tax exemption covers 100% of system costs. Contact the County Assessor for additional information regarding tax codes.

Building Envelope Improvements

Owners of existing homes receive a tax credit worth 30% of the cost of upgrading the efficiency of the building's envelope. Installation (labor) costs are not included. The following improvements are eligible for the tax credit:

  • Insulation materials and systems designed to reduce a home's heat loss or gain;
  • Exterior doors and windows (including skylights); and
  • Pigmented metal roofs designed to reduce heat gain, and asphalt roofs with appropriate cooling granule.

Heating, Cooling and Water-Heating Equipment

Taxpayers who purchase qualified residential energy-efficient property are eligible for a tax credit worth 30% of the system cost, including labor costs. The credit may also be applied to labor costs for assembly and original installation of eligible property. The following types of equipment are eligible:

  • Electric heat pump water heaters,
  • Electric heat pumps,
  • Central air conditioners,
  • Natural gas, propane or oil water heaters,
  • Natural gas, propane or oil furnace or hot water boilers,
  • Advanced main air circulating fans, and
  • Biomass stoves that use "plant-derived fuel available on a renewable or recurring basis, including agricultural crops and trees, wood and wood waste and residues (including wood pellets), plants (including aquatic plants), grasses, residues, and fibers."

Performance and quality standards for tax credit eligibility vary by technology. Energy Star offers detailed information on qualifying products.

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Federal Tax Credits for Renewable Energy Improvements! Originally established by the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, and subsequently extended and enhanced and amended by The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 (H.R. 1424) and The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1: Div. B, Sec. 1122, p. 46), the federal tax credit for residential energy property applies to solar water heating systems, photovoltaics, wind, fuel cells, geothermal heat pumps, and other solar electric technologies.

The credit now applies to eligible equipment purchased between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2010. The tax credit is 30% of the cost of the upgrades, up to $1500 aggregate for improvements made in both 2009 and 2010.


  • No maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $2,000 for systems placed in service before January 1, 2009.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.

Solar water-heating

  • No maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $2,000 for systems placed in service before January 1, 2009.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • Equipment must be certified for performance by the Solar Rating Certification Corporation (SRCC) or a comparable entity endorsed by the government of the state in which the property is installed.
  • At least half the energy used to heat the dwelling's water must be from solar in order for the solar water-heating property expenditures to be eligible.
  • The tax credit does not apply to solar water-heating property for swimming pools or hot tubs.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.

Fuel cell property

  • The maximum credit is $500 per half kilowatt (kW).
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The fuel cell must have a nameplate capacity of at least 0.5 kW of electricity using an electrochemical process and an electricity-only generation efficiency greater than 30%.
  • In case of joint occupancy, the maximum qualifying costs that can be taken into account by all occupants for figuring the credit is $1,667 per half kilowatt. This does not apply to married individuals filing a joint return. The credit that may be claimed by each individual is proportional to the costs he or she paid.
  • The home served by the system must be the taxpayer’s principal residence.

Small wind-energy property

  • No maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $500 per half kilowatt, not to exceed $4,000, for systems placed in service in 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2008, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.

Geothermal heat pumps

  • No maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $2,000 for systems placed in service in 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2008, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The geothermal heat pump must meet federal Energy Star program requirements in effect at the time the installation is completed.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.
Tip:_ Consult your tax professional regarding how to calculate this federal tax credit.

Light the Way… help conserve energy. Tell your friends and neighbors how you conserved and saved, and why they should too.

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