How to save energy while in quarantine

Larry Steffen PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

In the blink of an eye, the nation is spending more time at home — working, learning and everything in between.

For many, spending several more hours at home each day greatly adds to the certainty of knowing that higher, unpredictable energy bills will be making their way to tighter family budgets at the end of each month.

At the same time, businesses are taking a harder look to find ways to reduce costs and save money during an uncertain economic future.

Spending more time at home means lights are staying on longer, more electronic devices are being used for work and entertainment, electrical appliances are pulling double duty and more devices need a daily dose of charging. All these changes in our habits and daily activities continually increases energy usage and adds up more quickly than anyone wants to admit.

Additionally, businesses might be seeing a reduction in traffic directly affecting their revenue streams as a direct result of COVID-19. Now is a great time for business owners to examine their energy usage pre- and post-pandemic to look for ways to reduce energy consumption and implement cost-saving measures to reduce future energy spikes when business returns to normal.

Several small changes can help you save energy — and thus, save money.

Use a power strip instead of a wall socket. At the end of use, simply turn off the power strip to cut off the electricity. Devices plugged into a wall socket will continue to use electricity even when they are charged or turned off.

Turn off any unnecessary lights after they are done being used. Even better, switch to LED light bulbs in areas where you use more light. LED bulbs use about 75% less energy than incandescent lighting.

Only wash laundry when you have a full load. Switch to washing with cold water versus using hot water. Roughly 90% of the electricity to wash laundry goes to heating the water. If your utility has time-of-use billing, wash your loads during off-peak hours when the energy is cheapest. The cost of power could be double during the hours of 4-9 p.m.

Change the dishwasher setting to air dry instead of a heated dry setting. This economical switch reportedly saves between 15-50% depending on dishwasher models.

There is a long list of other cost-saving measures you can take to reduce your electric bill. You can try these next-step options:

Purchasing appliances that have an Energy Star label. Typically, these appliances have a 10-25% less operating cost than conventional models.

Install a programmable thermostat. This will help to reduce wasted energy from heating and cooling the residence while you are out of the house or at night.

Install energy-efficient windows. This can cut down on the amount of heat/cooling loss.

If you have an electric water heater, limit your daily usage of hot water. Consider a low-flow shower head to reduce the amount of water used in the shower.

The most important thing to remember is every little change you make in how you consume electricity can compound and begin to make a positive difference in your monthly utility bill.