Will Self-Quarantining Increase Your Electricity Use?
If you live in California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, or one of the other states that have issued orders to shelter-in-place there are a lot of things on your mind. One of the things you may be wondering is how the COVID19 pandemic will affect your energy use as you spend the bulk of your day at home.
With so many people working from home and staying inside to self-quarantine, an uptick in energy use is a valid concern. This is especially true for people who have already been financially impacted by a stay at home mandates.
We understand that right now saving every kilowatt possible is important to our customers. Below are some tips from the Spark Energy team to help keep energy use in check as you stay at home and ride out the Corona Virus outbreak.
Be Aware of Time-Based Variable Rates and Plan Accordingly
One of the first things you should do is check your energy plan to see if the rates are based on time-of-use. This means that the rates change throughout the day with peak periods being the most expensive.
Time-of-use plans have grown popular over the last few years and in some cities, it’s become the default. Each provider and plan is different, but generally, peak hours are from 4-9 pm. This is when you’ll want to minimize energy use as much as possible to reduce the cost.
The cheapest time to use energy is during super off-peak hours, which are often from 12-6 am. Most people don’t burn the midnight oil, but you can still take advantage of the low energy rates by scheduling the dishwasher to kick on after midnight or starting a load of laundry right before going to bed.
Adjust Your Sleep/Wake Schedule
When you’re home 24/7 and want to reduce energy consumption one of the best things you can do is make use of the daylight. Waking a little earlier to catch the first light of day and going to sleep a little earlier at night allows you to minimize electricity use.
For example, let’s imagine we’re in sunny San Diego and our normal wake/sleep schedule is 8 am/12 am. The sun rises around 6:45 am and sets a little after 7:00 pm. If we adjusted our sleep cycle to 7 am/11 pm we’d use artificial lighting one hour less each day. Since it isn’t a major adjustment you could easily transition from 8 am/12 am to 7 am/11 pm over the course of several nights.
Put Down the Controller and Pick Up a Book
Everyone is talking about how many hours of movie and television streaming Americans are going to consume while they practice social distancing by staying at home. Logging all that time on your flat screen will probably bump up the monthly electric bill just a little.
If a family’s daily TV time increases by an hour or two a day across three (fairly new) televisions in the home it would lead to about $1 increase on the monthly bill. However, if the televisions are older models there’s a good chance they consume more energy and the cost would be higher.
Instead of extending your binge-watching time, why not read that book that’s been sitting on a shelf for a few years? In an age of on-demand, instant entertainment it’s easy to forget how nice it is to get lost in a good book. Plus, reading comes with a number of side benefits like better sleep, increased empathy, and less stress – three things that can help us cope with being cooped up.
Use Solar Chargers
Now is the time to invest in a solar charger if you haven’t yet. Whether or not you’re working from home, you’ll probably be on smartphones and devices more than usual. All those devices require power to keep us connected to the outside world.
Beyond needing the power to function, there’s an additional energy drain if devices are left plugged in hours after they are fully charged. With solar chargers that are no longer a concern. Manufacturers have optimized solar power generation for small devices, making 15-watt chargers more than adequate for phones and tablets. Solar chargers with backup batteries are ideal because you can store up energy during the day that can be used at night or when it’s cloudy out.
Spark Energy is here for you during this trying time. If you need assistance our agents are working remotely to maintain the high service level customers have come to expect.