Quote: "I firmly believe in the use of solar power as a clean source of energy"

It’s been impossible to ignore soaring energy costs this winter. Families across California saw home energy bills reach $300, $500, even $900, adding to the financial stress that people are already experiencing due to rising inflation, housing costs, and lasting impacts from the pandemic. 

The price of natural gas, the fossil fuel that powers heaters and other home appliances in the majority of California homes, doubled.  The war in Ukraine constrained supply while global demand for gas spiked during the cold winter months.

And it’s not just the price of gas: following a major electricity rate increase in January, multiple utility companies have filed for yet another electricity rate increase to take effect this summer. 

As California transitions toward more sustainable sources of energy and a more reliable infrastructure, families are looking for ways to conserve energy at home.

That’s why we collaborated with California’s Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) Program and a Southern California-based multimedia artist Evan Apacoda to create a video in English and Spanish to share simple tips for saving energy.

Whether or not you have solar panels on your roof, putting these easy tips into practice can help reduce your monthly energy bill:

  • Stay warm in the winter: Set your thermostat at 68°F or lower and wear a cozy sweater. Close the drapes or blinds at night to insulate from the cold.
  • Take advantage of natural sunlight: Open your blinds or curtains first thing in the morning to light and heat your rooms.
  • Replace lightbulbs: Replace all your light bulbs with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. These bulbs can last up to 17 years.
  • Take shorter showers: Play a three-minute song while showering to help gauge the time.
  • Use the dishwasher for full loads: Use the cool-dry cycle or turn it off after the final rinse and let dishes air dry.
  • Increase your refrigerator temperature: Set your refrigerator between 36°F and 40°F and freezer to 0°F.
  • Turn off lights: Turn off your lights when leaving a room, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
  • Unplug appliances: Power strips make it easier to turn them all off at once.
  • Use ENERGY STAR certified efficient appliances: Browse Golden State Rebates program for discounts on smart thermostats, heaters, and air conditioning units.  

Of course, the savings from conservation and energy efficient appliances can only go so far when energy rates are at record highs. Bill savings resources can be complicated to find, and it’s sometimes hard to know if your household qualifies for a relief program. 

Start exploring your options by getting to know the state’s largest bill savings programs, CARE and FERA. Depending on your household income, enrolling in CARE can reduce your gas and electric bill by 30%, while FERA can cut your bill by up to 18%. If you recently lost your job or if you already benefit from a public assistance program like CalFresh or SSI, you may be eligible for CARE/FERA. To learn more about eligibility and enrollment, visit your utility company’s bill savings assistance page: SDGE, PGE, SCE.


In addition to relief programs, our communities need long-term solutions for clean, renewable affordable energy.  One of the main goals for the SOMAH Program is to provide lasting, reliable energy solutions to families living in multi-family affordable housing across the state, so they can save for the future they want to build for themselves. See if your affordable housing apartment complex qualifies for solar installation incentives by contacting us at somah@apen4ej.org.

It’s APEN’s birthday! We’re hosting a festive night market in Downtown Oakland on July 20, and we’d love to see you there.

Click here to save your spot.