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Surely, we are all fighting the effects of cabin fever by now. We’re currently in uncharted territory when it comes to our new “normal” brought on by the COVID-19 virus.  We are learning new practices such as social distancing. Any large public events for the foreseeable future have been canceled. The disruption of usage patterns across the board from cell phone use, internet, and home utilities. It’s a lot to take in. 

However, we as Americans will get through this together! All across the world, we are seeing celebrities, corporations, and even individuals stepping up to offer whatever they can to help those struggling the most. Some are even shifting their entire business model to produce essential needs to help us fight the virus. With the majority of the country now working from home, there are going to be a lot of changes to our finances. While some will be offset by the decrease in other expenses such as gas and tollway costs from not having to commute, it’s best to prepare for any outcome that can result from this historical shift in our routines. Here are a few things to consider when you and your family are home all day, every day. anchor 

Keep your groceries in check

While it is possible to save money on food costs, make sure you stick to only eating foods in your fridge.  Pro Tip: Keep it stocked with things you and your family will actually eat to ensure you don’t resort to takeout or delivery more often than necessary.   You’ll also want to have quick lunch and dinner items available because let’s be real, we are all fighting back cravings for our favorite restaurants right now. Just stay on top of grocery shopping and try to keep as close to your regular schedule as possible. Keep planning your lunches or utilizing leftovers from dinner the night before. It will be much easier to have food ready when you need it, instead of wasting working hours preparing a meal. *Important Note* Local restaurants do still need our help to recover from this major hit to their businesses. If you already order out a few nights a week or just want to be supportive, please consider helping out your go-to places. And don’t panic buy!

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  It’s ok to have at least 2 weeks of toilet paper handy for the entire house. Anything more can potentially keep essentials from other people in need. Pro Tip: Have a large family? Order online with Costco or Sams and select curbside pickup or delivery.

Be Mindful of Consumption Changes

Water

We’ve all become fans of singing our favorite song while washing our hands. Just be sure to turn the water off until you’re ready to rinse them.   Just think of how much we are wasting if everyone is running water for 20 seconds several times a day.  It can add up quickly! 

  When washing dishes, utilize both sinks when possible. One with soap and hot water, the other with cold so you can rinse. Using a dishwasher? 

  • The pre-rinse cycle uses less water than rinsing them in the sink.
  • Only run your dishwasher when it is full. 

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Internet

Let’s start with the good news.  The majority of internet service providers such as Xfinity and ATT have announced changes that will waive data caps, late fees, and disconnections for those struggling to pay their bills. Some have even opened up their wifi hotspots to everyone. Here’s the not so great news. Having everyone at home on several laptops, smartphones, and gaming systems can eat up your bandwidth and strain your wifi signal. This is causing an enormous test for our communication systems. Video chat is at an all-time high as family members and businesses stay in touch. Restricted bandwidth can potentially slow your connection, often resulting in dropped calls. Things that can help:

  • Run a speed test
  • Use an Ethernet connection
  • If possible, make sure your router is at the center of your home, unobstructed by furniture or thick walls.
  • Contact your internet service provider to increase speeds. anchor

Electricity

On a typical day, electricity consumption peaks in early morning hours while people are getting ready to go to school and work. And again when we get home and settle in for the evening. All of our appliances ramp up while we cook dinner, watch tv, and surf the internet until bed. Now, our pattern has become more flat, consuming steady power throughout the entire day, every day. Households in fixed-rate plans can expect higher electric bills in the near future caused by this increase in consumption. But they will not be impacted by this rate volatility and risk that comes with not being in a contract. Now, retail electricity providers will have to price in some of this risk in their future offerings. Fortunately, the electric demand for commercial electricity has dropped immensely from businesses closing during the pandemic. And with office workers at home, commercial spaces across the world are powered down.  This decrease in commercial consumption could also mean lower prices are on the horizon. As always, Energy Ogre is continuously monitoring these things so that our members will be as prepared as possible for whatever is to come. 

Here is a handy checklist of things you can use to do your part staying home:

  • Unplug appliances and chargers when not in use.
    Utilize power strips anywhere you can.
    Not only will this make it easier to turn things on and off, but they will also protect them from power surges.
  • Set your A/C between 75-78 when possible.
    Utilize your ceiling and box fans to keep the house cooler. On cooler days, turn off your a/c unit and open the doors and windows. It will also be nice to have some fresh air flowing in.
  • Use natural light as often as possible.
  • Avoid cooking with your oven and use your toaster oven or microwave instead.
  • Replace your A/C filters.
  • Wash your clothes on cold to avoid using energy to heat water.
  • Remove your clothes from the dryer a few minutes early.
    Not only will it save some energy, but they’re also
    easier to iron! Bonus!
  • Enable power-saving mode on your electronics.
    Phones, TVs, and streaming devices have settings
    to adjust how long before it goes into sleep mode. Lowering them all to the lowest setting can help.
  • Lower the temperature setting on your water heater.
    If you are willing to sacrifice a few degrees for your showers,
    knock your water heater down a notch to conserve energy and save a little on your electric or gas bill.
  • Consider swapping out any incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent or LED.
    Certain lights will be on several hours a day so you’ll want to conserve
    where you can. Incandescents also give off more heat and can affect the temperature in your home. Newer bulbs also last much longer.

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Separating Work and Home Life

Working from home can positively affect our mental health, stress levels, and overall attitude. You will have to practice self-discipline and stay focused while in your comfort zone.  Make a quiet space your own, or create one. It’s also important to keep a start and end time so deadlines don’t end up taking over your family time. At work you have office distractions, but home has it’s very own. Have a conversation with your household members (including the dog, though we doubt they will listen) about the difference between work and home time to prevent a loss in your productivity. Be patient. Remember, it’s new to them too.  Find fun ways to incorporate conservation into your children’s education. Get them involved with these conservation adjustments. Let them “help” install the bulbs or show them the process of replacing the a/c filters. Explain the importance of these jobs to help them form good habits and learn environmentally friendly practices going forward. 

Make it a game! 

Give each household member a week where they are responsible for ensuring everyone does their part not to waste electricity. 

Bonus:

They also get the right to call a family board game night whenever they like. (within reason) anchor

I’m worried about paying my electric bill

The utility companies that service the state of Texas (Oncor, CenterPoint, AEP Texas, and Texas-New Mexico Power) have all announced that they will not fulfill any disconnect requests for non-payment during this time. Most co-ops and municipalities in the state have issued similar statements in recent weeks. *ImportantNote* Other utilities such as water and cell phone service providers have also made arrangements if you need help. Please contact your providers to explore the options available. an

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Energy Ogre is here for you

 

 

How Will the Coronavirus Affect My Electricity Bill?

Stuart has the answers for you here. We truly hope we have provided some helpful information during this difficult time for all of us. We are a family here, and we view our members as a part of this family. Energy Ogre members can continue to call, email, or chat with us during regular business hours should they have any questions or concerns. We are happy to keep you informed during this time of uncertainty.     With love and air high-fives,

The Energy Ogre Team  

 

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