By OUC Communications:
As summer heat rises, Central Floridians are accustomed to seeing their utility bills go up.
But, this year, with schools and businesses closed as a result of COVID-19 – and whole families staying home together to help stop the spread – electricity and water consumption are spiking, too. Air conditioners are running constantly, multiple meals are being cooked every day, and toilets are flushing more often. And all that increased usage means higher-than-usual utility bills.
In fact, OUC has already seen a 29 percent increase in residential usage in April 2020 compared to the same time last year.
But there are ways to take control. From adjusting the thermostat on your air conditioning to taking shorter showers, all family members can work together to lower electricity and water usage. Here are some tips recommended by OUC conservation specialists:
•Set your thermostat to 78 degrees. That’s the efficiency sweet spot for your home’s air conditioner. For each degree below 78, you’ll add 6 to 8 percent more to your cooling costs.
•Keep the sun out. Use shades, drapes and blinds to keep the sun and heat out, especially on windows that face east or west.
•Turn on ceiling fans. Make sure they’re rotating counterclockwise, but don’t forget to turn them off when the room is empty.
•Give your air conditioning a helping hand. Change the air filter monthly and set the A/C fan to “Auto.”
•Turn off lights – and unplug appliances and electronics not in use. It’s estimated that the average home has 30-50 “energy vampires” – home appliances that drain power even when they’re turned off or in standby mode. Phone chargers, coffee makers and portable fans are among the culprits. Following this simple step can reduce your total energy usage by up to 10 percent.
•Opt for cold water. Try using the cold – rather than hot – setting on your washing machine and set your water heater to 120 degrees.
•Be water-wise. Wash only full loads in dishwashers and washing machines, take five-minute showers and turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving to decrease your daily water usage. Don’t forget to regularly check for faucet leaks in the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room and outside the house.
If you’ve followed all these measures and are still looking for more ways to conserve energy, schedule a free home energy efficiency audit via phone with an OUC conservation specialist. Each call typically takes less than an hour and is customized to your home and consumption. The specialist will explain your personal usage and provide useful solutions. OUC customers can schedule an audit by calling 407-423-9018 or visiting www.ouc.com/audit-inquiry.