Why electricity bills go up during a pandemic: what can be done about it
Americans are grappling with many of the financial problems associated with the pandemic during a recession: job losses, limited lease agreements, and cut 401 (k) contributions. The data shows that many are also seeing a significant increase in their utility and electricity bills every month due to telecommuting. Writes about it USA Today.
Experts believe that most of the additional costs should come as no surprise because people are spending more time at home.
The pandemic is forcing energy consumers to stay indoors more often than usual during the hottest months of the year, according to Kathy Allen, a savings expert at Pacific Gas and Electric Company in California, which could lead to higher energy costs.
“There will be more families at home this summer and it looks like a distance learning school year will also keep people at home,” she added.
Fluctuations in electricity bills are usually the result of changes in outdoor temperature. Electricity bills tend to be lowest during the milder spring and fall months when you don't need to run air conditioners or heaters.
But with people spending more time at home, one-third of US households have increased their electricity bills by 10-15% this summer, according to clean energy technology company Arcadia.
Most households will spend more, from $ 2 to $ 37 on utility bills, this summer, Arcadia said.
Joe Toscano's electricity bills are increasing by about $ 20 a month as he works from home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and uses more air conditioning. His wife also uses more electricity to work from home. So did his daughter, who switched to distance learning in March.
“I use my computer from 09:00 to 22:00 hours a day, like my wife and my daughter," Toscano said. "We didn't do that before."
Ways to lower your electricity bill
If your electricity bills are rising, you can do something to cut costs, but your approach should depend on where you live, experts say.
People who live in unregulated energy states like Texas, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Ohio have several more savings options than others, according to Ben Kurland, co-founder of BillFixers, a billing negotiation service.
“Those who live in deregulated markets have to find the cheapest tariff offered to them,” Kurland said. "The default rate you pay is probably not the lowest available."
Study the market
After looking at the rates of other companies, you can either switch to a new company or use this knowledge as leverage to negotiate with your current electricity supplier.
People who live in regulated states like Mississippi, Alabama, and Nevada do not have the freedom to enter the open energy market as these states choose the energy providers for them. If you live in a regulated state, you should call your electricity provider to inquire about special offers that you can qualify for.
“They will not apply the discount you are entitled to if you do not contact them,” Kurland said.
If you're unsure if your state is regulated or unregulated, Arcadia has posted a complete list that you can refer to.
According to Barry Gross, CEO of BillCutterz, you can negotiate with service providers to get better prices for customers, and you can also ask to pay your bill in installments.
Besides contacting your electricity company, there are other places where you can find ways to reduce your electricity bill.
The government offers a Low Income Assistance Program for people who need temporary help to cover their heating and cooling costs. There are also various other COVID-19 related relief efforts to help families facing financial challenges. For example, Solix Inc. works with authorities to ensure people have access to critical services, including electricity.
Experts believe that energy-efficient light bulbs, air conditioners, smart thermostats and other appliances can save you money.
You can also dim the TV, turn off appliances that are not in use. Many connected electronic devices use electricity even when they are not working.
“If you have a million small electronic devices connected, they are all just plugged in, doing nothing but supplying power,” Kurland said. You spend a couple of dollars on this every month. "
PG&E's Allen says people should use window shades to keep their air conditioners from running at full capacity. Air conditioning costs 40% of your electricity bill, she said.
“Close the curtains in the afternoon to prevent extreme heat from entering your home,” Allen said. People should try to limit how often the refrigerator is opened because it uses more energy to cool it after you release the air.
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