BEVERLY HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — We’ve been spending a lot more time at home due to the pandemic, and that means our utility bills are going higher.
The stay-at-home order’s still in place in Michigan until May 28, but even after it lifts, we’re urged to hunker down as much as possible to continue flattening the COVID-19 curve.
And with more time spent at home, the higher our utility bills will go.
Jeff Rightmer of Beverly Hills has noticed his electric bill up five-to-10-percent. Also, his gas bill has gone up slightly because he and his wife are cooking more.
That’s not all.
“I’ve noticed the biggest jump in water usage, and the water bill has probably gone up 60-to-70-dollars a month just because we’re both at home,” said Rightmer.
“Really the way you save the most energy is by not being home,” said Dan Wroclawski with a laugh.
Wroclawski is a Consumer Reports Home and Appliances reporter.
He said the best place to start saving on your energy costs is in the kitchen at the stove top.
1. MATCH SIZE OF POTS/PANS TO YOUR BURNERS
Make sure you match the size of your pots and pans to the size of your burners when cooking.
“A six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner actually wastes about 40-percent of the heat that the burner is generating, and that’s a lot of energy that can be saved just by thinking about those sizes,” Dan explained.
2. LET HOT FOOD COOL BEFORE REFRIGERATING
Another suggestion a lot of people might not think about is to let hot food cool before refrigerating it.
“If you put hot food in the fridge, it makes your refrigerator work a lot harder and use a lot more energy to cool that food down,” he said.
3. RUN YOUR DISHWASHER AT NIGHT
A third trick is to run your dishwasher at night. That’s right. The time of day can make a difference.
“A lot of electric companies will offer lower rates at night. So by running it at night, you’re saving energy just by you know, delaying that,” said Wroclawski.
4. USE HIGHEST SPIN SPEED ON YOUR WASHING MACHINE
The next place where you can save is the laundry room.
Wroclawski’s hack? Use the highest spin-speed on your washing machine.
“What that will do is get as much moisture out of your clothes as possible. And then when you go to dry those clothes, it’ll actually allow your dryer to dry them faster and use less energy,” he said.
5. FIX ANY LEAKS AROUND YOUR HOME
One of the easiest ways to save on your water bill is to fix any leaks around your home.
If a faucet is leaking, he said that it is likely the washer inside of them has worn out. And it’s a simple, cheap fix you can do yourself.
As for toilets?
“What will happen is if you hear your toilet running for a long time and no one’s using it. That means that there’s water that’s just going down the drain. And that’s usually due to an old or worn out flapper. And, so you want to just get that replaced,” he explained.
6. WATER LAWN SPARINGLY
There are water savings to be made outside your home as well. Water your lawn sparingly.
Wroclawski said your lawn only needs about an inch of water per week, that includes rain.
So, if you’ve already had some showers, you don’t need to water your lawn at all.
7. DON’T CUT THE GRASS TOO SHORT
Also, don’t cut your grass too short. He said it should be about three to four-and-a-half inches tall.
“By doing that it allows your grass to shade itself and that reduces evaporation,” he added.
8. CHANGE FILTERS IN APPLIANCES
Do changing filters in appliances help? Yes, indeed – especially on big appliances like a furnace or your HVAC system. If you don’t change those filters, it makes them work so much harder and uses a lot of energy as a result.
“In many cases you don’t even have to replace the filter. All you have to do is wash it out and clean it. And doing that will make it good as new. And your appliance will be running much more smoothly,” he said.
9. ADJUST THE THERMOSTAT
And don’t forget to adjust the thermostat – setting it a little bit higher if you’re running the AC and a little lower if you’re running heat.
There are even more ways to save on your utility costs during this pandemic so you don’t waste your money. We have a link to Consumer Reports’ Coronavirus Resource Hub.