San Diego

San Diego Heat Wave: To Turn the Air Conditioner On Or Not?

Some San Diegans say they are taking the higher air conditioning bill to stay comfortable while others are waiting it out

San Diegans are being asked to conserve energy this week as higher than usual temperatures threaten to break records

A high-pressure system is pushing temperatures into the triple digits for those living inland, bringing temperatures up to 20 degrees above average.

For those with air conditioning, there is one important question during this heat wave: do you keep the air conditioner on all night and pay a higher utility bill, or bear the heat through the night to save money?

"My girlfriend is a penny pincher. She likes to save money and be responsible," said resident Patrick Johnson. "I'm the opposite: free-spirited and I let things flow." 

Another resident, Tony Ampalas, said that his wife prefers to keep the air conditioner off. 

"To be honest, she can tolerate the heat a lot more than I can," said Ampalas. 

Adjusting how you use air conditioning can save you money, according to San Diego Gas & Electric. 

Changing the A/C thermostat from 72 to 78 degrees can save up to 12 percent on your electricity bill, SDG&E said.

Also, running a ceiling fan while your A/C is on can allow your family to raise the thermostat about 4 degrees without losing any comfort.

For those without air conditioning, the options might be putting on the fan all night or keeping windows open. 

"I wish we had air conditioning," said homeowner Heather Cowan. "We brave the heat!" 

Others have air conditioning only in certain parts of the house.

"I keep the air conditioning on in one room and then wake up in the middle of the night to turn it off," said Christine Vincent in Tierrasanta. 

The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) issued a Flex Alert for Tuesday and Wednesday urging California residents to conserve electricity from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. during those days.

Under a Flex Alert, residents are asked to postpone using major appliances until after 9 p.m. and turn off all unnecessary lights. 

For Pat and Quin Childress of Phoenix, the heat wave of San Diego is an escape from temperatures in Arizona. They were on vacation in Mission Valley Tuesday. 

"In Phoenix, we have the air conditioning on, an overhead fan and a standing fan," Pat Childress laughed. 

A Flex Alert is called for by Cal ISO when extremely hot weather pushes up demand. Other factors like fires that lead to transmission line losses and storms can affect when an advisory is issued.

Sign up to receive Flex Alerts here.

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