Imagine an electric bill that consistently runs about $11 per month while your neighbors are paying anywhere from $200 to $300 in the summer.
Impossible you say? Tyson and Nicola Delise of Ceres are paying Turlock Irrigation District bills that low. How do they get away with it? By using LED light bulbs, all energy efficient appliances, a new energy efficient heating and air conditioning system, dual-pane windows and solar panels on the roof.
The recently married couple moved to Ceres in February, buying a house built in 1988 on Don Pedro Avenue. They renovated the inside of the house and set out to retrofit 10 old windows to dual pane windows and replaced an old HVAC system that wasn't efficient.
"In the three months that we have owned it, we have invested in brand-new Energy Star appliances throughout, all new windows and new doors," said Tyson, "not to mention replacing a very outdated AC and heating system that was installed when the house was first built."
You won't find any old fashioned incandescent light bulbs. They hog too much energy and they produce heat, so the Delises use CFLs and LED (light emitting diode) bulbs.
"What seriously helps out is the fact that almost every light in our home is installed with LED bulbs except for the bathrooms fixtures and our entry light, which is a CFL, due to the type plug connector," he said.
At $15 to $30 each, LED bulbs are much more expensive than the old type of bulbs but they last seven to 25 to 35 years.
The couple invested $20,000 to install a new HVAC system and solar panels which is paying off with low electric payments. Power generated by the panels are integrated into the power grid which allows TID to buy unused energy.
"As it stands right now, we are currently sitting on approximately 80 KWH of energy since we completed all of our renovations and our last electricity bill was $11 and that was a service charge," said Tyson.
In the first full month in the house, using 278 kilowatt hours cost $29.52 but was rebated back because of solar.
"All we're getting charged for currently is just the service charge and the Ceres city tax and the state's tax."
In their last bill on June 13 they used 477 kilowatt hours and still only were billed $11.77. It would have been $77 without the solar.
The couple was in Costco when they talked to a Honey's Air representative about a new central heating and cooling unit. After a free in-home estimate of the 1,550-square-foot house, the company suggested installing the HVAC system and solar panels as a package which came to $20,000. TID offered a $2,000 rebate and Costco offered a $1,000 card.
"When I pay taxes there will be benefits there," said Nicola.
Nicola, a native of England, said she learned the value of conserving while living in Bermuda for 10 years before meeting Tyson on an internet dating website. She said it is uncommon for those in Bermuda to pay power bills of $300 to $400 monthly.
Tyson said he grew up with a stepfather who worked for PG&E in Cupertino and stressed the need to turn out lights in the house to save power. He also spent four years in the Marines and was disciplined to do what was needed.
The couple also looke for ways to trim household expenses given the state of the local economy has not allowed them to find work.
Serious about promoting energy savings, the couple has encouraged TID to update their rebate program by offering rebates for those upgrading even further from CFLs to LEDs. They also plan to take TID on a rebate program to plant shade trees to help shade the house and further cool their home in hot summer months.
Tyson & Nicola Delise welcome inquiries from Ceres residents about energy savings by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.