Home Advisor

This page is hosted by Don Kruse dunnamckruser@gmail.com Here you will find ideas on home improvment and cost saving tips to save you money.


Since the majority of us live in the SMUD electrical power distribution area, I will explain their billing system and method. Roseville residence can view the billing system online at Roseville Electric.com/rates and PG&E residents can view their rates at PG&E Rate/tiered base plan. PG&E has a four tiered billing plan.

All plans are based on kilowatt hour usage or consumption. A kilowatt hour is 1000 watts consumed per hour. 10-100 watt incandescent light bulbs burning for 1 hour is equal to 1 KWH.  The average power consumption for a clothes dryer and central heat and air conditioner is 4000 watts or 4kilowatts.


For sake of discussion, I will only deal with standard rates. There are exceptions to the standard rates based on using electrical heat, well pumps, etc. SMUD’s standard rates is a two tier system based on seasons-summer, winter, spring and fall. the rate system is: RESIDENTIAL BASIC USAGE & BASIC-PLUS USAGE. 

The standard Basic Usage  price is $0.0998/KWH winter, spring and fall while the summer Basic rate is $0.0.1076/KWH

The standard Basic-Plus  Price is $0.1805/KWH winter, spring and fall while the summer Basic-Plus rate is $0.1870/KWH

The average air conditioner will consume 3000 - 5000 watts per hour. Assuming a 4000 watt air conditioner, the Basic Usage cost to opperate this unit in the spring would be 4KWH at $0.0998 or $.40 per hour. In the summer, the cost would be $.43 per hour.

The Basic-Plus price in the spring would be $.72 per hour while the summer cost would be $.75 per hour.

The increase from Basic to Basic-Plus is almost double. It is important that you look at your utility bill and focus on consumption. Included in your bill is fixed infrastructure fees, surcharges, taxes, etc. These fees you have little or no control over but you can contol your Basic-Plus usage.

The basic rate allows for 770 KWH in the Winter, Spring & Fall while allowing 835 KWH in the summer. Basic-plus is all consumption of KWH in excess of these amounts.

In my nexxt article, I will discuss ways to reduce KWH consumption.



In my last article, I mentioned several steps that should be taken to prepare your air conditioner for the coming summer months. As mentioned, over 40% of your electrical utility bill comes from your air conditioner. The key to controlling cost is efficient opperation, and controlling usage.

Both SMUD and Roseville Electric use a multi-tier billing system based on the time of the year. SMUD recognizes

                                                             Summer                               Fall                                  Winter                                  Spring    

                                                    Jun 1 - Sept 30th                 Oct 1 - Nov 30th                 Dec 1 -  Mar 31                  Apr 1 - May 31st  

Base Usage per month $/KWH                       $0.1076                                            $0.0998                                         $0.0998                                                 $0.0998

Base Plus per month $/KWH                            $0.1870                                            $0.1805                                        $0.1805                                                 $0.1805


It should be noted that the type of heat used (electric or nonelectric) will effect the rate. The above rates are pretty much standard residential rates base on KWH (kilowatt hours) 10 - 100 watt light bulbs burning for 1 hour = 1 KWH or 1 - 100 watt bulb buring for 10 hours = 1 KWH.

Each utility company sets the base KWH usage. It averages between 400 -800 KWH per month. I believe SMUD uses 573 KWH as the base. Base plus is the KWH in excess of the base allowance.

To conserve your cash, your KWH usage must be kept below the 573 monthly KWH usage. The appliance that consumes the largest portion of your KWH usage is the air conditioner. The air conditioner can be not only efficient but effective by a good tune-up and the use of fans. Especially whole house fans in combination with attic ventilators. The whole house fan will pull cool outside air in and exit it through the attic. Cool air is drawn in throug open windows in the evening. Any and all fans will create the movement of air thus reduce the need for the air conditioner. 

If you should have any questions concering your air conditioner or fans, please do not hesitate to send me a email or give me a call.

Next issue will address other appliances and their energy consumption




Summer is here. Are you ready for it? Is your air conditioner ready? According to the US dept. of energy, 43% of your electrical utility bill is the direct result of air conditioning (AC).Understanding that your AC unit is similar to your automobile, a bunch of organized parts covered by sheet metal. And like a car, frequent tune -ups are necessary. Now is the time to give your AC some tender loving care. Because most AC units are so well built, they are often forgotten and therefore neglected.

Air conditioners move heat from the inside of your house to the outside, thereby cooling you and your home. Cool air is blown in  by pulling heat out of the air. Air from within the house is blown over evaporator coils. As this happens, the refrigerant within the evaporator coils absorb the heat from the air. The refrigerant in the evaporator coil changes from a liquid to a gas. This gas is pumped outside to another coil called the condenser. Air flow at the condenser  results in the refrigerant giving up its' heat and changes back to a liquid. A pump called a compressor moves the refrigerant back and forth between the two coils. 

Air must move freely, no obstruction or resistance. The efficiency of your unit is based on how well and how often your unit is serviced which allows the air to move with the least amount of resistance. The following items should items be on your to-do list if you are to receive maximum benefit, efficiency and length of service from your air conditioning unit.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, I suggest you visit youtube for some well thoughout training. Also feel free to contact me if you should you have any question concerning the procedures. The process listed below are intended to highlight what should be done not how to do it.

  1. TURN OFF THE SAFETY DISCONNECT SWITCH: The switch is typicall located within sight of the AC unit. Test to be sure
  2. REPLACE THE AIR FILTER: Cool air enters the house through a ducting system and exits the house through a return air duct. As the air leaves the interior of the house it passes through the air filter before it gets to the evaporator coil. Air filters should be checked and cleaned on a regular basis. Any thing in the air on the interior of the house, dirt, dust, smoke, etc. will travel to the air filter. A dirty air filter causes the AC equipment to work harder thus lowering it overall efficiency. The air filter in your AC system works the same as the air filter in a car. A clean filter inproves efficiency and lowers operating cost.
  3. Clean the evaporator and condenser coils. Dirt and residue builds up on the coils. The unobstructed air flow through the coils inproves efficiency and lowers operating cost.
  4. Check your duct system for leaks and connections. There is no need to cool your attic.
  5. Inspect the electrical components for wear and damage.
  6. Clean dirt and dust from the fan blades

You can pay a little now or a lot later. Hopefully with frequent tune-ups, you will extend the life of your AC unit and control your energy cost. There are many many ways to minimize your energy cost which I will cover in a later issue. Until then, hit them long and straight.