With millions of Americans working and learning from home, households are using more energy than usual at typically low-usage times of day. We at OUC understand that this behavior change can lead to higher-than-normal electric bills.

Below are some energy- and water-saving tips to keep your bill from spiking while staying home to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19):

  1. Set AC to 78 Degrees — 78 is the sweet spot for energy efficiency during the spring and summer months. A thermostat set at 76 degrees will use up to 15 percent more energy to power an air conditioner than it would at 78 degrees.
  2. Turn Off Lights, Appliances and Electronics — You’ll want to keep refrigerators and freezers on, but other appliances and electronics sitting idle do not need to be consuming electricity. The Small Business Administration says 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are switched off – also known as “vampire power.”
  3. Use Natural AC — Open windows when outdoor temperatures are mild and turn on ceiling fans in rooms with people. Close shades to keep sunlight from heating up your house.
  4. Check Toilets — A leaking toilet can waste 90,000 gallons of water in 30 days! To check for silent leaks, put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank after it has filled. If coloring shows up in the bowl without flushing, you probably have a leak in or around the flapper valve.
  5. And Faucets, Too — Worn washers are the biggest cause of faucet leaks.
  6. Follow Lawn-Watering Rules — From March to November, OUC customers whose addresses end in even numbers water on Thursdays and Sundays; those with odd numbered addresses on Wednesdays and Saturdays. During the other months, water only once a week. Watering lawns between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is ineffective.
  7. Complete an Online Home Energy Audit — OUC customers can complete a FREE Online Home Energy Audit. After answering a few questions, you’ll receive recommendations on enhancing your home’s efficiency. Learn more at ouc.com/energyaudit.
  8. Use the Energy Savings Settings on the Computer — Did you know your computer has built-in settings for saving energy? A simple adjustment will reduce its energy consumption.
  9. Use a Smart Power Strip — If you’re working at home, you may have a computer, printer, scanner, phone, router, and many other devices or electronics. Smart power strips can help to make sure these devices aren’t drawing power when you aren’t using them, while allowing you to choose a few items to always keep on.