How to keep your energy bills from skyrocketing during COVID-19

Your commuting costs might be down due to COVID-19, but with many still sheltering at home, energy bills might be creeping up. Consumer Reports has some tips on curbing those costs.

With temperatures getting hotter, there are a few simple ways to keep your utility bills down without sacrificing comfort.

Our homes have been working overtime: extra meals, dish washing, the heater and air conditioning always on.

"Adjusting your thermostat settings is actually one of the simplest and most significant things you can do to keep your energy bills under control. Lower your thermostat by a few degrees when you have the heat running and raise it a few degrees when it gets warmer and you have the AC running," said Dan Wroclawski, Consumer Reports Home Editor.

Programmable or smart thermostats make this easy.

A thermostat from Honeywell Home is a CR Best buy at $90 and testers tell us installation is fairly straightforward.

"Some other smart thermostats can actually adjust your temperature settings based on your activity and behavior," said Wroclowski.

CR likes the smart Nest Thermostat E for about $140.

"Some smart thermostats also offer wireless temperature sensors that detect motion in a room. That allows you to heat or cool a room when it's only being used," he said.

In the kitchen when cooking smaller meals, use a toaster oven or microwave. They cost less to use than your big oven.

To save water, forego prolonged pre-rinsing and hand washing. Instead, scrape food off and load your dishes right into your dishwasher.

"Use the quick rinse or rinse and hold cycle on your dishwasher. That'll rinse all the dishes and use a lot less water than the faucet and then you can save them up for when you have a full load to run," he said.

And finally, institute shorter showers - try for five minutes or less.

To save in the laundry room, use the highest spin setting available on your washer. It removes more moisture and helps shorten drying times.
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