COVID-19 causing higher energy bills as more people stay home

With so many people hurting financially because of COVID-19, the last thing any of us need is a pricier energy bill. But with so many people home 24/7, that's the reality.

"We’ve got a lot of customers at home for an extra eight hours that they weren’t planning to be, and that extra eight hours means eight hours of energy use and water use that they weren’t planning on," says Annie Pantzke, a spokesperson with Tacoma Public Utilities. 

Working from home also adds more power usage many people didn't have before. There might not be anything you can do about the time you need to be on your devices, but it's when you're not using them that can still cost you.

"In the utility world we like to call this vampire use. It’s those machines who are sucking energy when we aren’t using them. Video game consoles are a big vampire of energy use, your computer as well, if you have a computer at home, your desktop and a laptop -only use one, unplug one from the wall because it is using energy," says Pantzke. 

Another big energy cost during the summer months is AC and fans, which are used a lot more these days and could be driving up your bill. Fortunately for all of us, there are some simple ways to keep your house cooler that are cost free: 

  • Do your laundry early in the morning or at night.
  • Give your oven a break and use the microwave for a meal.
  • Keep your blinds closed during the day. 

Overall, many energy companies say rain or shine, people's bills have gone up during the pandemic. Many companies, like Tacoma Public Utlities, say they've created ways to help customers get through these times.

"We have payment assistance programs for customers, we’re also allowing customers to extend payment plans with us and we’re waiving late fees if they're having trouble paying ... we just ask that they reach out and let us know and we’re here to help."