Hacks for keeping your energy bill low while you quarantine

May 13, 2020   By Jackie Whetzel

Hacks for keeping your energy bill low while you quarantine

The coronavirus is affecting just about everything right now – including things you probably haven’t even considered like your home’s energy bill.

Although Texas’ statewide stay-at-home order has expired, officials still recommend social distancing. Many Texans may see a jump in their energy bill while they’re practicing social distancing measures and quarantining indoors. But have no worries. Save On Energy is here with a few hacks to help you keep your energy bill low while you ride out the COVID-19 wave at home.

Cooking up savings

The coronavirus has temporarily shut down restaurants all over the country while social distancing measures are in effect. This is forcing more families to cook at home resulting in increased energy consumption. However, there are plenty of ways to save money when you’re wearing that chef hat.

For starters, always consider grilling outdoors on scorching hot days so you’re not trapping extra heat in your home from the indoor oven.

On rainy days or whenever you want to prepare a meal indoors, consider utilizing smaller appliances like the microwave, toaster or toaster oven to prepare meals.

Microwaves, for example, not only cook things faster, but they also use a lot less power than turning the oven dial up to 450 degrees. When it comes to reheating food, many microwaves consume up to 80 percent less energy than a standard oven.

When cooking on the stove, always make sure you’re using flat bottomed cookware, as it will heat the pan more effectively. Warped-bottom cookware can use 50 percent more energy to boil water and is far less energy efficient.

You should also always use the right size pans when cooking on the stovetop. The Department of Energy says using the right size pans can save you $36 annually when cooking on an electric range and $18 for gas. For instance, a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner will waste about 40 percent of the heat being generated. Every dollar counts, right?

Other tips to keep in mind when you’re whipping up meals is that copper-bottomed pans heat quicker than non-copper, and glass or ceramic cookware are a better choice than metal. Just make sure that anything you put in the oven is oven safe!

Unplug everything

One of the simplest energy-saving tips every home can implement while they quarantine is to unplug anything not in use from an outlet.

Even the smallest gadgets like a hairdryer, video game console, coffee pot or toaster are energy vampires draining your bank account.

Many people don’t realize these items are consuming electricity when they’re plugged in but not in use by what they call standby power. According to the Department of Energy, standby power “accounts for 5 percent to 10 percent of residential energy use, costing the average U.S. household $100 per year.”

Practice thermostat discipline

Make it a habit of turning down your home’s thermostat 7 to 10 degrees from its normal temperature for at least eight hours a day. The normal sleep cycle is about eight hours, so bedtime is always a good time to implement this habit. Managing your home’s temperature can save you as much as 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs.

Upgrade your lightbulbs

If you’re stuck at home with more free time than normal, consider replacing any incandescent bulbs in your home with more energy efficient bulbs like LED’s. It will save you time and money in the long run.

LED light bulbs last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs so you’ll be spending less time on a ladder switching them out. They also use at least 75 percent less energy than the old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs.

The Department of Energy says, “Widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States.”

The DOE also reports that by 2027, wide-ranging use of these innovative lightbulbs could yield savings of approximately 348 TWh of electricity and $30 billion (at today’s electric prices). “This is the equivalent annual electric output of 44 large electric power plants (1000 megawatts each),” the DOE explains.

Manage your HVAC system

As the quarantine days tick off the calendar and summer approaches – Texans know better than anyone that the summer cooling bill is soon to follow. One way to save money while you’re quarantining at home and using the AC a little more than normal on work-from-home weekdays is to ensure that your HVAC system is working efficiently.

If you haven’t already conducted an HVAC tune-up this year – now is the time to do one. You should also make sure that all vents are open in your home and there are no obstructions (i.e. toys, books or furniture on top of vents).

While you may think that closing vents in unused rooms will save you money on heating and cooling costs, the added pressure from closing a vent can actually cause air leaks in your system and long-term, unnecessary energy waste.

 

Jackie Whetzel is a freelance writer who has been featured in newspapers and publications across the country. She has written on the topics of energy, education, government and business.

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