October is National Energy Awareness Month. It was adopted in 2001 by the White House to encourage government and organizations to raise awareness of the importance of sustainably managing the nation’s energy resources. Since then, it has expanded to include everyone.

National Energy Awareness Month

It is an important time for all businesses and households to consider ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy use. This makes a lot of sense and can save you money at the same time.

Here are 10 simple ways to save energy:

  1. Watch your bill for spikes in energy use and identify the cause. A sudden change in increased energy use is a signal that you need to address before it gets out of hand.


  1. Change standard and incandescent bulbs out for LED bulbs. 90% of the energy used in regular bulbs is in the form of heat, not light. By changing to LED’s you can have big savings in energy use.


  1. Make sure devices and lights are turned off when not in use. Create good routines and habits in your business and household around saving energy.


  1. Upgrade heating and cooling systems, refrigerators and washing machines. The standard fridge now uses 40-60% less energy than older models. Newer appliances altogether are designed to use less energy, so it may be time to upgrade and let the energy savings help pay for it!


  1. Install a Programmable Thermostat. While the weather is comparatively mild here on the Central Coast, we still use heat and sometime air conditioning. A programmable thermostat is a hassle-free way to keep your temperature controlled and use less energy.


  1. Unplug idle electronics. Chargers for devices continue to draw power even when the device is not plugged into it. Computers, televisions, and other electronic items use a lot of electricity when they are constantly left on.


  1. Borrow a “Kill A Watt” meter from the Chamber of Commerce to see what appliances and equipment are using the most energy. See the article below for more details.


  1. Get an Energy Assessment. If you are a business, you can have an energy assessment performed to determine where you can save on energy use. It’s easy, just call the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce to get started!


  1. Upgrade your holiday lights. As the holidays approach, discard your old tree lights and outside lights in favor of LED lights. LED lights also provide more flexibility with colors and settings.


  1. Install lights with sensors. For businesses, lights that turn on and off automatically based on occupancy can be installed in restrooms and offices alike. In both households and businesses, outdoor lighting based upon motion and light is boost security and save on electricity.

What is a “Kill A Watt” meter?

“Kill A Watt” meter

A “Kill A Watt” meter is a tool that can determine how much energy an appliance or piece of equipment uses. After setting the meter for the rate you are being charged (it is on your energy bill), plug in the appliance. The readings on the meter shows how much money you are paying to use it over a period of time.

You may be surprised about how much you are paying to use some equipment and appliances that you own. It may urge you to find ways to change the way you use them.

“Kill A Watt” meters are available at the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce for checking out and borrowing. This is a tool provided by PG&E and the Santa Barbara County Energy Watch Partnership.

RMDZ Program

What is the RMDZ?

The RMDZ (Recycling Market Development Zone) is a program funded through the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). The RMDZ program provides low interest loans and technical assistance to firms that use recycled materials to make new products or that prevent or reduce waste as part of the manufacturing process.

What is the Purpose of the RMDZ Program?

The purpose of the RMDZ program is to assist businesses to find innovative ways to cost-effectively produce less waste and more product for greater profits.

Who is Eligible?

Businesses and nonprofit organizations located in the Santa Barbara Regional RMDZ are eligible to participate.

What financial assistance is available?

Low-interest loans to eligible businesses that:

Manufacture a new product by using secondary (post-consumer or post-industrial) waste materials.

Achieve a net reduction in the waste generated from the manufacturing of a product

Add value to a finished product for reuse by reconditioning, reprocessing, repairing, washing, or re-manufacturing.

What is the maximum loan amount, terms and interest rates?

75% of a project’s cost or $2 million, whichever is less.

For real estate purposes, a maximum of $1 million may be borrowed.

Loan term may not exceed 10 years (15 years if secured by commercial real estate).

Fixed interest rate for the term of the loan.