Keeping your utility bills from skyrocketing as we stay home during the coronavirus pandemic

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Even as we approach a Phase One reopening of the economy in Central New York the reality is that many of us are likely still going to be spending a lot of time at home.

That means cooking more meals, doing more cleaning and laundry, and other things could cause your monthly utility bill to skyrocket before you know it.

Consumer Reports has some tips on how to limit energy and water use without sacrificing comfort at home.

“The way you save energy at home is by not being home, and since we are all now stuck at home you are going to likely see an increase in your energy bills,” CR Home and Appliances Writer Dan Wroclawski tells NewsChannel 9.

He says even though many of us are learning and working from home these days on electronics like computers, laptops, tablets they don’t use up that much energy.

What you really want to look at are your large appliances and a great place to start he says is the kitchen.

Wroclawski says, “One of the simplest things you can do, it sounds kind of silly, is match the size of your pans to the size of your burner. A 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner will actually waste about 40-percent of the heat that’s generated, so that’s a lot of energy being wasted.”

He adds that when you’re done cooking and eating, make sure you give your leftovers time to cool down before you put them in the refrigerator otherwise the fridge has to work harder and use more energy to cool them.

Don’t leave food out for more than two hours because bacteria can start to grow. And cover any liquids you put into the refrigerator so they don’t release moisture into the refrigerator, which also makes the appliance have to work harder to maintain the temperature.

Another suggestion is to run the dishwasher, full, in the evening when Wroclawski says energy prices are lower. He says companies change the rates with the time of day.

Washers and dryers are some of the biggest consumers of energy.

“One of the easiest things you can do is just use the highest spin speed your washer has and that’ll get as much moisture out of your clothes as possible and that allows your dryer to not work as hard and use less energy,” Wroclawski recommends.

And he says don’t forget to clean out the lint screen every use, it helps with air circulation and gets clothes drier faster.

You definitely want to make sure all the filters in your appliances are clean so they run as efficiently as possible. A dirty filter can interfere with the optimum performance by, for instance, blocking airflow.

You can wash filters for room air conditioners, over-the-range microwaves, range hoods, dehumidifiers, dishwashers with manual filters, and some vacuums. But the filters on refrigerators, water filters, air purifiers, gas furnaces, and most vacuums need to be replaced. Check your manuals to see when it’s time to replace these filters.

Wroclawski tells NewsChannel 9, “They make the appliance work harder, which uses more energy and if you don’t clean them it can make your appliances over time.”

For more tips on how to save on your utility costs and other advice to keep your family safe and healthy during the pandemic, check out Consumer Reports coronavirus resource hub.

More from NewsChannel 9:

For more local news, follow Jeff Kulikowsky on Twitter @JeffNC9.

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