Conservation in the Time of COVID 19
by Mason PUD 3 on
April 29, 2020
The "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order in Washington state has many people using more energy in their homes than normal. You can take control of your power use.
With families following the advice to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy,” many may see higher energy consumption, which means higher electricity bills. While it’s not surprising that more people at home for longer periods of time leads to more energy use, there are ways to keep it under control.
Here are Mason PUD 3’s top tips to conserve in the age of Coronavirus:
Heating and Cooling
Almost half of a home’s energy use goes to heating and air conditioning. With the “Stay Home – Stay Healthy” order, many of us are at home when we would typically be at work or elsewhere. That means several hours of additional heating or cooling. Here’s a tip to help: set your thermostat at 68 degrees. For every degree you turn down your thermostat (and leave it there), you save between 1 and 3 percent on your energy use.
Make sure your thermostat is accurate. Use an instant-read cooking thermometer to check. If possible, upgrade to a smart thermostat. When combined with an electric heat pump or forced-air system, PUD 3 offers $100 rebates on smart thermostats.
Heat pumps are among the efficient ways to heat and cool your Pacific Northwest home. PUD 3 can help get you on your way with a new heat pump rebate, with amounts that range from $800 to $1,600. Contact PUD 3 to see if you qualify.
If you have a heat pump, check it regularly to make sure it is operating the way it should. For example, backup or emergency heating should only turn on when outside temperatures drop below 30 degrees. If the “Auxiliary” or “Emergency” heat comes on at any other time, call your trusted HVAC company as soon as possible to remedy the situation.
Regularly check and clean your filters! Heating and cooling systems run more efficiently (meaning they use less energy) with clean filters. PUD 3 recommends cleaning them at least once a year. Clean filters can also help avoid a costly heat pump failure.
Water heating is the second biggest user of electricity in your home. PUD 3 recommends a check of your water heater to make sure it is set at 120 degrees. It’s an easy task, and we have a great video to show you how to do it.
If you want to be even more of an energy hawk, you can turn off your water heater at the breaker when you are finished using hot water for the day. Just turn it back on one hour before you intend to use it again. The water in the tank will remain hot for 24 hours.
New, energy-efficient water heaters can help save even more. If you are in the market for a new water heater, call PUD 3 first. We offer rebates starting at $600 for electric heat pump water heaters!
Clothes and Dish Washing
Since clothes washing can really hog hot water, save energy by using the cold-water cycle. Cold water cycles and the right laundry soap usually do a great job removing stains, from grass on your kids’ jeans to makeup on your favorite sweater. Save your silks and delicates, they love to take a bath in cold water.
Don’t waste energy by only running partial loads of laundry, or just a few dishes in the dishwasher. Washing full loads are much more efficient.
If you are spring cleaning and washing bulky items, hang them in the sun to dry. Your regular dryer uses much more energy and doesn’t add that fresh outdoor fragrance.
Save energy by upgrading to a qualifying EnergyStar washer with a $30 PUD 3 rebate, or $50 rebates for an eligible EnergyStar dryer. Before buying a washer or dryer, please contact PUD 3 to make sure your unit qualifies.
You may be doing a lot more home cooking these days, especially since many of our favorite restaurants are closed.
If this describes you, consider cooking without your oven.
First on the list is using the barbecue during nice weather. Charcoal or propane replaces electricity, and that’s a bonus.
Pressure cookers like Instant Pot are all the rage now and with good reason. For example, cooking a pot roast in the oven usually uses about six kilowatt-hours of energy. A pressure cooker does the job using only between one and two kilowatt-hours. That’s an energy savings of up to 70%!
Instead of the oven, also think about using small electric pans, toaster ovens, convection ovens, air fryers, or crockpots for typical meals. Those appliances all use less electricity.
Were you were one of the lucky recipients of PUD 3’s FREE LED bulbs last year? Hopefully, they’re still not sitting in their box. If they are, break them out and convert as many of your old bulbs to LED as possible. The new bulbs use 85 percent less energy than the alternative, and that translates into a lot of saved kilowatt-hours! Even if you have lots of LED bulbs in your home, turn them off when they are not needed. Open the curtains and blinds. Let the natural light in!
Computing – Right Tool for the Job
Working and schooling from home mean more devices plugged in most of the day. There are some wise ways to control the energy used in your home classroom and office:
Don’t kill mosquitos with a sledgehammer. If you have a laptop, and it meets your computing needs, use it instead. A desktop computer with a monitor can use up to four times more energy than a laptop to operate.
- EnergyStar certified computers, monitors, printers, modems, and routers operate more efficiently than standard models.
- Set computers and monitors to “hibernate” after 15 minutes of inactivity.
- Consider a smart power strip for your media center or computer area so you can turn off everything at once.
Monitor & Track Your Success!
When you add everything up, one of the most important things you can do is monitor your energy usage to see if your conservation efforts are working. And, if so, how much? Use Mason PUD 3’s SmartHub app to check hourly energy use for your individual account. You can also see how much electricity you are using by logging into your account at my.pud3.org.
If you have any questions, our friendly customer service staff at 360-426-0777 is ready, willing, and able to help you better understand your usage.
Visit PUD 3’s conservation page at www.pud3.org/saveenergy.