AUSTIN, Texas — Many are seeing higher utility bills because we are staying home more than ever. According to the City of Austin, residential energy usage has increased by 19% since last month.
Jennifer Herber with City Of Austin Utilities gave KVUE some tips on how to manage energy and water use.
- Make sure you set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher if possible.
- Turn on a ceiling fan to see if that cools you down and, if not, close the blinds to keep the sun's heat from entering your home.
- On cooler days, open up the blinds and use natural light instead of electricity.
- Turn off and unplug any electronics you are not using because, while they are plugged in, they can still suck up energy.
- Dim your televisions and computer screens to reduce energy use. Some TVs have a “home” or “standard” setting to help.
- Wash full loads of laundry using cold water if possible. Herber said heating water uses energy.
- Electricity is cheaper at night so the more you can do later, the better.
- Instead of the oven, use slow cookers, toaster ovens, microwaves or grills, especially during the summer.
- When washing your hands, turn off the water – but yes, still wash for 20 seconds.
- Adjust refrigerator temperatures to 35°F to 38°F and set freezer temperatures to 0°F. Keep fridges indoors and out of garages to save energy.
If you are struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can reach out to City of Austin Utilities.
"We can help get you on a payment arrangement, and we have a bunch of ways we are helping people," Herber said. "One, we have suspended all disconnect payments and we are waiving all late fees."
They also have the Plus 1 program to help you pay your utility bills. To see everything City of Austin Utilities has done to bring relief to residents, click here.
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