Like everyone else in our country, the past few weeks have brought drastic changes to my family’s lifestyle. We are accustomed to spending the majority of our days away from our home, at work and school. Typically, we cook breakfast every day and dinner 4-6 nights a week. We almost never eat lunch at home, but now, we are eating all three meals inside our house every single day. This means we are running our dishwasher every day as well. We are using a lot more energy with all our activities:: doing more laundry, keeping our A/C running at all times, and keeping lights on nearly all day long.
I am also attempting to work from home on my laptop, and my children are spending a lot of time FaceTiming their friends, watching movies on Disney+ and Netflix, and playing games on the iPad. Whether working from home or keeping busy children occupied while school is suspended, many Houston moms and I are wondering how this change in routine might affect our monthly energy bills.
As spring begins to heat up and people are spending the vast majority of time at home, it is normal and expected for electricity usage to increase. However, there are still actions we can all take to manage energy usage and costs. I was relieved to learn that there’s no need to stress about increased screen time since most entertainment devices like TVs, computers and video games only cost pennies a day to operate, but there are things we can do to help save us money on the things that do cost more to operate. Reliant is committed to educating Houstonians on energy usage and how to save money on their energy bills during this difficult time.
Top 5 Energy Tips for Staying and Working from Home::
Manage the temperature.
Set your AC fan to the “auto” rather than the “on” setting, which can help decrease energy costs and make it easier for your AC to maintain your desired temperature. You can also rotate your ceiling fan counter-clockwise to create a wind chill effect for a more comfortable living environment. Keep in mind when your thermostat is set below 78° F, each degree cooler can increase your costs by up to 7%.
Load up the dishes.
With restaurant service suspended in many areas, you may be cooking more at home- like we are. Dishwashers require a lot of energy to wash and dry, so run only a full load of dishes on the automatic energy-savings cool-dry cycle. If your dishwasher doesn’t have this feature, turn it off after the final rinse and let the dishes air dry.
Do laundry at night or early morning.
Avoid using large appliances like the clothes washer or dryer during the hottest part of day. These appliances can cause your AC to work harder to keep your home cool. Run fewer, larger loads at night or early morning back-to-back to take advantage of the heat buildup.
Pull out the grill.
Enjoy this time with your family by having a cook out and using your outdoor grill instead of the oven. When cooking inside, use microwaves and slow cookers instead of electric stoves or ovens. Use glass or ceramic pans, which retain heat better.
Enjoy the outdoors.
Get caught up on your gardening and landscape with shade trees to reduce heat from the outside. Trim plants and remove any obstructions near your AC equipment to help it run more efficiently. Also, if you have a pool, ensure the pool pump does not run 24/7 by installing an automatic timer.
Fun Ideas for Helping Kids Learn How to Save Energy::
I have three kids at home and am determined to get them on board with saving energy and money while they are out of school. Along with other educational activities provided by their school and resources we’ve found online, we’ll be adding these ideas to our schedule this week::
- With kids home, make a fun game out of handwashing the dishes!
- Make “Turn It Off” signs for the light switches at home to remind children to shut off lights after leaving a room.
- Have your kids play detective and help find leaks and drafts in windows and doors by making a map of your house. Label all the doors, windows and vents, and have them take a ribbon and hold it next to the edges of doors and windows. If it flutters, they’ve found a leak! Once their map is made, parents can seal any leaks with weather stripping or caulk.
While we don’t have much of a choice on the amount of time we are spending at home right now, we can make wise choices about our energy usage. I am thankful for these tips from Reliant to help my family save money this spring.