TALLAHASSEE — As consumers spend more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, average home electricity usage has increased. A few simple changes can help keep utility costs in check. Since October is National Energy Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to review your energy habits, and the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has the tools to help.
“Both weather conditions and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted our home energy use. While we may have saved money by not driving to work or dining out, we’re using more energy and water overall,” said PSC Chairman Gary Clark. “As a result, many Floridians have seen higher than average utility bills, but a simple solution is to implement conservation measures during the fall and winter months to help control costs.”
According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) June 30 report, April residential electricity sales in the United States increased 8 percent compared with April 2019. Chairman Clark is encouraging consumers to follow simple energy-saving tips via Twitter, LinkedIn and the PSC’s website (http://www.floridapsc.com/) during October’s Energy Awareness Month.
Implementing home energy-saving strategies is always a good idea. Accessing the PSC’s Conservation House is a good place to start, and below are more tips to help you start saving on your utility bills:
• Turn off the lights when they’re not in use — Lighting accounts for about 12 percent of a typical residential utility bill.
• Consider lighting needs — Install lower wattage lights and use LEDs where possible.
• Locate air leaks — Inspect doors and windows and any openings that connect to outdoor or unheated and uncooled spaces. Fill leaks with caulking or weather-stripping.
• Inspect cooling and heating equipment — Heating and cooling is the largest energy expense for most homes, accounting for about 48 percent of energy use. Make sure the systems’ filters are clean. Install a programmable thermostat to maximize efficiency, and if your system is old, consider investing in a new, more efficient system.
• Check insulation — Upgrade insulation if you live in an older home. The attic, walls and floor may need new insulation to meet current standards.
• Examine appliance age — Consider replacing older appliances, since newer appliances are much more efficient.
Chairman Clark is also encouraging customers who are having trouble paying their energy bill to call their utility or call the PSC’s consumer assistance line, 800-342-3552. Utilities are working closely with customers during this time to help them pay their bills, including setting up payment plans.
Look for more information on cutting energy consumption on the PSC’s website, www.floridapsc.com. Look for Publications at the top of the home page, and then click on Consumer Brochures. Consumer tips from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website can be found at: https://www.energy.gov/eere/femp/energy-awareness-month
Follow the PSC on Twitter, @floridapsc.