If you are like most people, you only think about electricity when your utility bill is super high or when the electricity goes out. This is one of the reasons why we now dedicate the entire month of October to Energy Awareness and Action. In September 1991, President George H.W. Bush declared October as National Energy Awareness Month. The goal was to encourage government and organizations to raise awareness of the importance of sustainably managing the nation’s energy resource. This practice has continued for the last four presidents and is something that local municipalities and governments support as well. Because of coronavirus, outreach is going to look quite different than previous years. With more people working from home and kids doing their coursework online, we are using a lot more electricity every single day, so we need to make sure everyone is aware and takes action to lower their energy usage. If you are looking for ways to keep your utility bills low while we are all spending more time at home, here are our top recommendations:
Pay Attention to Your Thermostat
During the Fall, our temperatures are getting cooler and the days are getting shorter, which means we really need to make sure that we are aware of our thermostat settings. Industry recommendations suggest you set your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer. With the temperature still fluctuating drastically, we recommend keeping your thermostat as close to the temperature outside as is tolerable for your family. This may be the time to install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats can help make monitoring easy and human error-free. One suggestion is to set the thermostat to the suggested setting while you’re awake and then lower it while you’re asleep. Lowering your thermostat 10-15 degrees for eight hours can reduce your heating bill by 5-15 percent. EnergyHub says that for each degree you lower your heat, you can save 3 percent or more on heating costs.
Use Your Appliances at the Right Time
Now that we are home more, you may want to run your dishwasher as soon as it is full or run the washer and dryer when you have the physical energy to fold those clothes. Unfortunately, that may not be the best time economically to use these large appliances. During the day, everyone is using their computers, electronics and lights, also known as peak demand. So, it does matter what time of day you use these larger appliances. Also consider these recommendations:
- Wash clothes with cold water and make sure you have a full load.
- Use a lower heat setting on the dryer and use a dryer ball to help cut energy costs.
- Run the dishwasher only when it is full and scrape instead of pre-rinsing the dishes.
Open the Blinds
With us all spending more time at home, you may find yourself turning on lights even when the sun is shining outside. Although lighting only accounts for about 11 percent of a home’s energy use, it is still important to be aware of how we are using it. Use natural light, opening the curtains, shades and blinds when you wake up. The sunlight will also help warm your home as the temperature gets colder. Use task lighting. This means using a lamp in the area you are in as opposed to the overhead lighting in the room; it uses less energy. Switch to LED bulbs. LED lights save energy and release less heat into the room. Get instant, in-store discounts when you buy select ENERGY STAR® certified lighting at participating retailers.
Working from home means not only that we are on our computers all day long, but you may have Netflix playing in the background, your cell phone right next to you and a host of other appliances plugged in. We encourage you to be savvy with those appliances so that you are not racking up a high utility bill.
- Make sure electronics are turned off when not in use or set them to sleep mode.
- Use power strips to uniformly shut off power to devices and stop vampire loads.
- Unplug chargers and other small appliances (like the coffee pot) when you are done using them.
- When purchasing new appliances and electronics, make sure they’re ENERGY STAR® certified.