How to keep your utility bills under control during shelter in place

Posted at 10:44 AM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 11:44:33-04

With a lot of us spending most of our time at home, soaring utility bills are a big concern for Central Texans. KXXV talked to some local experts to find ways to cut usage as we prepare for at least a few more weeks at home.

If you’re now working from home, making some simple changes can help prevent you from breaking the bank.

“Almost everybody still has to run out for essentials, so that might be a good opportunity to pick up some LED light bulbs. If you're still using incandescent light bulbs, a quality LED light bulb will save you 75%,” said Diane Jenkins.

Other tips include making sure furniture is not covering air ducts, unplugging devices that aren’t being used, and moving your home office space by a window to use natural light.

While these may seem like small steps, added together, they can greatly decrease your energy usage.

“Thirteen percent of your homes electricity goes to heating your water. So if you set your hot water heater to around 120 degrees, its going to make a huge difference,” said Diane Jenkins.

Jenkins highly recommends switching to a yearly contract with your energy provider instead of a variable contract.

“Variable electricity has never been more expensive than it is right now. Its outrageous, and so many people don’t keep up with that. They don’t know that there contract has expired, and that’s the number one reason people just all the sudden get a huge bill and don’t really know what to do about it," said Diane Jenkins.

With unemployment on the rise, money is tight.

The most important thing to do is simply communicate with your provider.

By practicing these energy saving tips you can hopefully create good habits to save money even after the shelter in place order is lifted.

Oncor also provided these additional tips to help individuals cut back their energy usage:

-Unplug devices when you’re not using them. Even devices that are turned off or not in use, such as plugged-in phone chargers, are still using electricity.
-Set your thermostats just two or three degrees higher and block out the hot sun by closing the blinds and curtains. Every degree of extra cooling will increase energy usage six to eight percent.
-Use ceiling fans, which spread cool air more effectively and can make a room feel four to six degrees cooler. Remember that fans cool people, not rooms, so turn them off when you leave.
-Avoid using large appliances (i.e. ovens, washing machines, dishwashers, etc.) during peak hours, which are between the hours of 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. during hot days.