A $50,000 electric bill? The cost of cooling L.A.’s biggest houses in a heat wave? A $160,000 medical bill?
“Our system is broke.”
Such questions are common during the summer, California homeowners, and they can make homeownership even more of an ordeal in a state with 1.7 million listings to choose from.
The Los Angeles Times talked with one homeowner who tried to explain why his home’s temperature remained stubbornly high and expensive during a heat wave that left residents of L.A.’s tony Bel Air neighborhood sweating at the top of the city.
“There are a lot of reasons that are not cool,” said the homeowner, who asked not to be identified to protect his privacy. “We’re not a big home; we have nothing to do with central air — maybe we did once in the ’90s, but I don’t know — and we don’t have an A/C unit (in the house, which is run by the air-conditioning company). We’re just old-fashioned.”
Another problem, the homeowner said: He lives in a neighborhood with three separate water systems. “Water is not something we worry about much because it’s not for us.”
Such challenges don’t go unnoticed by the California Energy Commission, a state agency that oversees conservation programs, or, as it’s also known, COFCo, whose members are appointed by the governor and approved by the Legislature. The agency holds an annual report card on the state’s energy consumption, along with an annual list of the most cost-effective ways to save energy.
“We would welcome (a state law) in which homeowners could go to the energy commission (for advice) on the coolest way to run — or cool — their house,” said Chris Pritchard, energy commission spokesman. “With everything in this state right now, it’s a matter of figuring out how to do the right thing for people rather than how to save the most energy.”
The COFCo annual report cards have been published sporadically over the past few years, reflecting the fact that state regulations have added more energy-efficient measures to homes. The commission has been issuing them in response to an increase in demand for energy-efficient appliances over the past decade, even as the state’s population has swelled.
The most recent figures from the report cards, for 2012, show California’s energy consumption is now 29 percent higher than