Alabama Power offers tips for reducing energy costs while working from home

Alabama Power offers tips for reducing energy costs while working from home
Alabama Power offers tips on how you can conserve energy while working from home. (contributed)

Alabama Power is offering suggestions and tools to help lower energy bills as you spend more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One degree of adjustment on your thermostat is equal to about 3-5 percent difference in usage. (contributed)

Jim Goolsby, a senior market specialist, said small adjustments in your home thermostat can make a big difference in your energy usage.

“What you really want to think about is the biggest user in the house, and that is our air conditioning system,” Goolsby said. “One degree of adjustment on your thermostat is equal to about 3% to 5% difference in usage.”

To keep your home comfortable on warm summer days, Goolsby recommends using a ceiling fan instead of lowering the thermostat on your air conditioning unit.

“A lot of folks’ tolerance levels can be adjusted by a couple of degrees based on that air movement in the house,” Goolsby said. “So, utilize those ceiling fans. It’s going to help you out a lot when it comes to being comfortable inside the house.”

Ways you can save money on energy bills while working from home from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Other suggestions Goolsby said will collectively save money include:

  • Open windows and turn off heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) when temperature and humidity are mild and pollen levels are lower.
  • Turn off ceiling fans in unoccupied rooms.
  • Use paper products to reduce dishwasher usage.
  • Only run washing machine and dishwasher when full.
  • Avoid using the oven and dishwasher in the hottest parts of the day.
  • Cook and grill outside.
  • Turn off lights when not needed.
Using natural light during daylight hours can reduce energy costs. (contributed)

“Lighting is always going to make a difference, but you’re not going to see a dramatic, instant impact because only about 5% to 6% of your overall energy consumption is attributed to lighting,” Goolsby said.

Goolsby adds that replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs can save money down the road.

“LED bulbs are considerably more efficient than the old incandescent type, but just don’t expect it to be an instant, noticeable difference,” Goolsby said. “These bulbs are lasting 10 to 15 years, so over the life of that bulb you will see considerable savings.”

Maintenance matters

Goolsby suggests using the extra time you are currently spending at home to clean and maintain your home and appliances.

“You want to try to keep it simple, but since we are spending an extended amount of time at home, I know a lot of people are getting those household projects done,” Goolsby said. “One great project to try to get completed is to make sure all your doors and windows are sealed with either some sort of weatherstripping or caulk. Anytime that we can keep that air out of our house, that’s going to benefit us from an energy-consumption standpoint.”

Goolsby recommends cleaning refrigerator coils, which are located either underneath your refrigerator or, in older models, behind it.

“Because it’s out of sight, we don’t pay a lot of attention to it,” Goolsby said. “If you keep those coils clean, they’re going to cool just a little bit more efficiently.”

Changing your HVAC air filter once a month can reduce the strain on your unit. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)

Goolsby said a cleaning tool or brush will get dust off the coils. He said coils should be cleaned once a year.

“This is a great time, especially if you may have missed a few years and have got some extra time around the house,” Goolsby said.

Goolsby recommends changing HVAC filters once a month.

“We recommend that you use a simple, low-cost average filter and change that filter every 30 days,” Goolsby said. “A lot of the newer thermostats have a reminder setting, but the old tried and true method to remembering that is to change that filter every time you get your power bill.”

How much savings?

So how much money can all of this save you each month?

“It’s hard to put a number on that, just because everyone’s lifestyle is a little bit different, but we can notice anywhere from 5% or 10% difference when people take all of those tips into consideration,” Goolsby said. “It’s all about how much you use your appliances on a regular basis as to how much of an impact you’re going to make, but any of those things are going to make small differences that add up to considerable savings.”

Track your usage

To help keep track of how much electricity you are using, Alabama Power offers a free online tool called My Power Usage.

How Alabama Power customers can track usage and set threshold alerts from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Alabama Power offers My Power Usage, an online tool to keep track of your energy usage. (contributed)

“I love to explain this to our customers when we’re talking on the phone and calling about a high bill,” said Keysha Walters, a senior Customer Service representative at Alabama Power. “My Power Usage is the perfect tool to help you understand where that usage is coming from and when you are using it.”

Walters said you can set up My Power Usage to alert you daily or monthly when you’ve reached a predetermined threshold of energy usage. She said My Power Usage can give a projection for the coming month.

“It’s a tool that can help you stay in budget, keep your usage affordable and help you conserve,” Walters said. “It’s an awesome tool to have.”

To access and set up My Power Usage, visit alabamapower.com/mypowerusage. If you have questions about My Power Usage, call 1-800-990-2726 and press 7 to speak with a specialist.

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