home is where the…increased consumption is

Spending much more time at home these days, I, like many of my friends and family, have begun to notice an uptick on my monthly utility bills. While I certainly have been using energy—that coffeemaker has been working overtime—I was surprised by just how much more my household consumes. As a cheerleader for energy education and conservation, I have staunchly put into place a few household rules to compensate for me and my partner’s increased time at home.

  • Open blinds = focused minds
  • The higher the hamper, the fuller the load
  • Shorter showers bring paper flowers

While these little idioms were meant to keep my household accountable, it’s clear that there is more work to be done. According to a recent The Columbus Dispatch article, more time at home means more energy consumption at residences rather than businesses, burdening families with increased utility bills at an already tough time for many ((Williams, 2020). In fact, the article reports that residential water consumption, reported from the Columbus Water Department, is “running 3.4% higher than a year ago,” totaling $51.3 million in residential bills ((Williams, 2020).

This uptick in energy consumption, if assumed to be taking place in more cities than just Columbus, means higher utility bills for residents across the country. And while we face a reality of increased time at home for the unforeseeable future, these higher utility bills could be burdening us for months to come.

So, for the sake of our pocketbooks and our environment, how do we combat this increased demand? While Ohio Energy Project certainly knows a thing or two about Saving Energy at Home (ahem ahem e3 smart ahem ahem), I’ve compiled a list of additional low-cost ways for you and your family to start saving today:

  1. If you have an older, uninsulated tank, insulate your water heater to reduce heat loss.
  2. Ensure you aren’t losing too much energy through your windows by installing window coverings to both lower your heating and cooling bills and keep you comfy all year round.
  3. Take advantage of the summer weather and dry your clothes on clothes lines or drying racks.
  4. For those of us using computers more frequently, be sure to power down or enter sleep mode when not in use.
  5. And, if you know OEP, install that LED!

Those are just a few ways to save energy at home. Find more here or through OEP’s e3 smart curriculum. Also be sure to check your local utility provider’s website to find more information on customer programs in response to COVID-19.

While being at home is my new Santorini (I can dream), it doesn’t have to break the bank. Monitoring your energy usage, committing to a few no cost or low-cost energy efficient practices, and empowering your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same is all you need to do to make a difference.

References

Energy Saver. (n.d.). Retrieved July 17, 2020, from https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/energy-saver

Williams, M. (2020, June 14). Consumers face higher utility bills during coronavirus outbreak. Retrieved July 23, 2020, from https://www.thisweeknews.com/business/20200614/consumers-face-higher-utility-bills-during-coronavirus-outbreak