By Rebecca Bridges
For The Leader
If you’re working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can expect your electricity bill to jump by 8 percent or more this month. That’s according to Houston-based Innowatts, an energy data analytics company.
You can keep your electricity bill in check for your home office by taking some simple steps.
Your HVAC system is the biggest use of electricity in your home. It accounts for at least 50 percent of your bill. So your thermostat setting will have the biggest impact on your electricity usage.
Experts recommend that you keep your air conditioning set to 75-78 degrees during the day. That’s significantly higher than the typical 72 degrees of the average office. Make the transition a little easier by adjusting your thermostat up one degree each day, so your family can acclimate to the change.
But, the change is worth it. According to Energy.gov, for every degree you increase your thermostat, you could save 1 percent on your electricity bill.
You should also use a ceiling fan in your office to stay cool. A ceiling fan will allow you to increase your thermostat setting by 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort.
One added bonus of working from home is the casual wardrobe. Even if you are on a video conference, you can stay cool by dressing professionally on top, and wearing shorts and flip flops on the bottom. When you dress according to the outside weather, you’ll stay cooler.
Make sure your home HVAC system is operating efficiently and change your air filter regularly. A clogged air filter will make your HVAC system run longer, which costs you money. You can also perform minor maintenance on your system, like cleaning the condensate drain, checking the ductwork for leans, and cleaning the outside evaporator coil.
Where you set up your home office also matters. The south-facing side of your home gets the most sun exposure. Set up your office on the north or east side of your home to reduce sun exposure and afternoon heat.
If you are home-schooling children during the COVID-19 pandemic, recruit them to help save on electricity. Kids can calculate the number of kilowatt hours each device in your home uses, and what it costs to use it. Then they can compete to earn energy-saver points.
You should also look at your electricity bill to see what plan you are on.
If you are on a free nights or weekends plan, consider whether that fits your new home-all-the-time lifestyle. Plans that offer free electricity at certain times usually have much higher electricity prices during the non-free times. Contact your electricity provider to ask if you can switch to a fixed-rate plan instead.
If you are on a month-to-month variable rate electricity plan, your price is 30-50 percent higher than current electricity offers. Consumers usually end up on a variable rate plan when they forget to renew at the end of their contract. Locking in a fixed-rate plan will help protect your electricity bill.
You can find additional tips on how to save on electricity bills online at www.electricityplans.com/blog.
Rebecca Bridges is an Oak Forest resident and Chief Marketing Officer for ElectricityPlans.com, an online electricity shopping platform that lets residential and commercial customers compare electricity rates to find the best electricity price.