During these unprecedented times, many of us are now working from home – and usually with kids in tow which means that we are using more electricity and water every day. As the Residential Energy Program Manager in Montgomery County, Maryland, my job is to make sure people know how to lower their utility bills and keep money in their pockets, so I wanted to share some tips with the BOOST Breakfast Club as well! These are my recommendations to help manage your bills while working from home.
Pay Attention to Your Thermostat
Since it is Spring, we are at a tricky time when it comes to setting your thermostat. 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, I 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%. EnergyHub says that for each degree you lower your heat, you can save 3% 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 and 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, open the curtains, shades, and blinds when you wake up. If it is a super hot day, keep them closed to reduce heat gain.
- Use task lighting, this means use 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.
Be Appliance Savvy
Working from home means we are on our computers all day long, and not just that, you may have Netflix playing in the background, your cell phone right next to you, and a host of other appliances plugged in. I 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. Watch me talk about this in more detail during my video called To Plug or Not to Plug.
- Unplug chargers and other small appliances (like the coffee pot) when you are done using them.
- When purchasing new appliances and electronics, make sure it’s ENERGY STAR® certified.
I hope these tips will help you during this time 🙂
For breakfast I had breakfast pizza – scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, peppers and onions on homemade pizza dough!