The local utility provider San Diego Gas & Electric is currently running a contest that gives eligible participants a chance to earn prizes and help their community by learning to save energy.

“During the summer, air conditioning costs alone can account for as much as 40 percent of the average California homeowner’s energy usage,” says Gabriel Carini, who has offered heating and cooling services in San Diego for more than a decade. “The indoor comfort system is a good target when you’re trying to cut back on energy usage.”

If you want to participate, hurry because the SDG&E contest ends on November 30.  You can sign up for the San Diego Energy Challenge within minutes and be on your way to earning prizes.

Here is an excerpt from their Sep. 24 press release about the program: “The San Diego Energy Challenge has been designed to help customers manage their home energy use in a fun, easy to use online dashboard. It’s an innovative program backed by the US Department of Energy that empowers customers and helps the local community.”

To help you start saving energy and be on your way to earning prizes, we compiled a list of some HVAC-specific ways to cut down on energy consumption, including many that Carini has talked about on our blog before:

The prizes for the San Diego Energy Challenge range from daily to monthly. Every day, a participant is selected from the top 25 percent energy savers and wins a gift certificate to a web-based e-commerce, retail businesses or local establishments within the SDG&E service territory. Daily top savers are also entered into the monthly drawing where one person is selected to win an iPad 3.

“Beyond the personal prizes, which are pretty cool, and the money saved on energy costs, participating also helps the community,” says Carini, a San Diego heating and air conditioning expert.

SDG&E is offering as much as $40,000 in cash grants to eligible schools in the San Diego Unified School District based on participation and enrollment.  “If your neighborhood isn’t part of the eligible areas for this pilot project, stay tuned because SDG&E hopes to eventually expand it into additional service areas,” says Carini, a furnace repair provider.