Thinking of running a load of laundry this afternoon? Try to hold off until tonight, if you can help it.
Every year, electric utility companies warn consumers at home to shift their usage of electric appliances away from the middle of the day to help keep electric bills lower.
Residents should avoid using energy-consumptive appliances such as washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and others from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., according to Doug Roles, vice president of member services at Valley Rural Electric Coop.
To supply electricity to homes, electric utility companies pay for energy partially in terms of capacity cost, or the estimated maximum amount of energy that will be used at the busiest time of day.
There are certain times of the year that create a demand for more energy to maintain comfort. In the case of the hot summer, residents may be more inclined to use indoor air conditioning. This, coupled with the taxing amount of energy used by businesses, pushes the capacity cost higher, which raises the cost for consumers.
To keep that cost down, Roles said consumers should use energy-intensive appliances in the morning and later in the evening, when businesses are not as active, Roles said. This helps displace some of the demand for energy, which in turn reduces the capacity cost.
"Use less of the electricity when it is the most expensive," Roles said.
This not only keeps the cost down for the individual; it helps everyone using the same utility service, according to Roles.
"Our goal is awareness: Our effort is to remind people to be aware of their use and to shift it," Roles said.
Roles explained Valley Rural Electric sends out multiple public service announcements about the "electric shift" through social media and radio.
"We hope ? when they see those reminders, they are able to participate to whatever extent their lifestyle allows," Roles said. "It's totally voluntary."
Besides shifting their usage, consumers can also take small steps around the house to reduce their own electric bill.
"Look for the low-cost/no-cost ways to save," Roles explained. "When you leave the room, turn off your lights. A fan is good for cooling people; it does not air condition spaces. If you have a fan running and nobody is using it, turn off the fan."
In addition to lights and fans, Roles said owners leaving their house for an extended period of time can raise the temperature to avoid incurring costs.
A water heater can be highly taxing on the electric bill, too, Roles said. Showering over a shorter period of time and with cooler water can help reduce personal bills.
Valley Rural Electric's website, valleyrec.com, also lists several additional tips. These include closing curtains and blinds around the house, minimizing the time refrigerators and freezers are open, cooking with an outdoor grill or microwave oven and dressing in loose, lightweight clothing.
Whether it is enjoying the air conditioning, watching television or listening to music, when people stay home, they use more electricity. Especially in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen more and more people work from home, Roles said Valley Rural Electric has noticed an increase in people working from home.
"Anecdotally, certainly that's happening. We have heard from members-we know they're spending more time at home," Roles said.
Despite the anecdotes, however, Roles won't know about more concrete numbers until this year closes out and they can compare data from this year to previous years.
Additionally, Roles explained many electric providers have programs to help struggling customers pay their bills.
"If you think you're going to be in a position where you're going to pay that monthly bill, contact your electric provider," Roles said.
For more information about saving energy, visit http://valleyrec.com/content/electric-shift.
Jon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.