With millions of Americans still at home, about 1 in 3 people nationwide are expected to see their utility bills go up by at least 10% this summer.
That’s according to renewable energy company Arcadia, which measured the increase in residential energy use from 10,000 customer households across 13 major U.S. cities in March and April 2020 to estimate how much more power Americans consume when under stay-at-home orders or unemployed. Overall, Arcadia estimates Americans in the 13 cities studied (which make up about a third of the U.S. population) will spend between $2 and $37 more on utility bills during June, July and August, just from spending more time at home.
That’s because the more time people spend at home, the more electricity, water and gas they use during daytime hours, Arcadia found. About half of the entire U.S. workforce is now working remotely, 35% of which made the switch recently because of the pandemic, according to recent research from MIT economists.
It’s worth noting that the expected 10% increase doesn’t even take into account the electricity bill surge that typically happens in summer due to rising temperatures.
The level of energy use will vary city to city, Arcadia says. Those with denser populations like Philadelphia and New York will be hit hardest, while those on the West Coast, such as Seattle and San Francisco, will see smaller increases, according to Arcadia’s research.
Those worried about paying their utility bills amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic should contact their provider. While many providers’ Covid-19 specific programs are ending in June, you may be able defer utility bills through the assistance programs most companies offer year round, including major providers such as ConEd, Duke Energy, FirstEnergy and PSE&G. PG&E, which serves California, offers two programs that provide a monthly discount of up to 20% for families of four making less than $52,000.
There’s also the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federal program for low-income families that helps with energy bills. While income eligibility requirements vary by state, generally a four-person household earning less than $36,400 qualifies.
Households that receive other federal benefits such as food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income or certain types of veteran’s benefits are also eligible. You can call the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) hotline toll-free at 1-866-674-6327 to get information on where to apply for LIHEAP.
Beyond assistance programs, there are steps you can take around your home to keep your energy bills low and hopefully save some extra cash each month. Here are five easy things you can do today that probably won’t cost you any money upfront.
1. Unplug appliances and devices
Start by unplugging appliances, devices…
Read More: Utility bills may increase by 10% on average in big cities this summer