How to Keep Your Bills Manageable While Sheltering in Place

Sheltering in place is transforming our day-to-day lives in a thousand ways, big and small. Unfortunately, even your bills are no exception. Since you’re spending all of your time at home, you’re probably using your utilities more than usual. The more water, electricity, and cooling you use, the more costly your bills become.

In other words, in addition to how hard sheltering in place can be for all kinds of other reasons, it can also get expensive. If you need a way to save money right now, minimizing your utility bills can be a very effective one. Luckily, it isn’t that hard or disruptive, either! Saving money on your bills is mostly about using your home utilities as efficiently as possible. Here are some good ways to do that:

Turn off the sink while washing your hands

It’s impossible to reiterate this too many times, especially right now. You’re probably washing your hands a lot right now. You’re probably even taking the advice of the CDC to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. That’s fantastic! Just remember: TURN OFF THE WATER WHILE YOU’RE WASHING!

You should only run the water twice while washing your hands: once when you first lather up, and once when you rinse. Only run the water on for as long as both of those actions take–two seconds, max. Keep the water off for the other 18 seconds. This might sound a little extreme, but we promise it’s worth it. We can prove it… with math!

Why You MUST Turn Off The Faucet While Handwashing: The Math

Let’s say you wash your hands an average of 8 times per day. If you leave your water running for the additional, unnecessary 18 seconds every time you wash, then you’re wasting 144 seconds, or 2 minutes and 22 seconds, worth of water. An average bathroom sink faucet uses 1-3 gallons of water per minute while running. Therefore, by leaving your water running while you wash your hands, you’re wasting 2 to 6 gallons of water per day.

Now, on the bright side, think about what happens when you stop doing that. You’re using 2 to 6 fewer gallons every day. Your water bill will reflect that change immediately. Not to mention, given how often you’re probably washing your hands right now, this is more important than ever. Turn off that faucet!

Unplug non-essential electronics

Did you know that all electronic devices still consume some power when they’re plugged in, even if you turn them off? That includes your tv, stereo, chargers, appliances… and everything else. Any individual device doesn’t use much power, but together they can really add up over time. In fact, the CDC estimates that this so-called “vampire” energy usage accounts for 5-8% of an average household’s annual energy bill. We… don’t even have to do the math this time.

Look around your home for any electronics you’re not using but keep plugged in. Chances are, there are more than you even realized! Start with the obvious (computers, tvs, chargers), but don’t forget to get a little more creative than that. For instance, you could easily unplug lamps or clocks in rooms you’re not currently using! Just be careful not to go overboard and unplug anything you really need. Learning to keep things unplugged when you don’t need them is a great habit to start saving money fast.

Open your windows

First of all: don’t be afraid to open your windows. You don’t need to worry about coronavirus blowing in through your open windows. In fact, the government and CDC recommend opening your windows to circulate fresh air to prevent stagnation. Opening your windows has benefits for your power bills, too.

Keep a close eye on how often your HVAC is running. Even in spring, California is California, you might be using your AC more than you realize. By opening your windows, you can let more cool air in and rely on your AC less. Keeping your shades up also lets natural sunlight in, which can help you turn on fewer light bulbs during the day. Plus, we could all use as much vitamin D as we can get right now.

Look for leaks

Depressing as this may be to consider, being at home all the time is the perfect opportunity to take stock of things you need to fix or work on. In fact, we… probably didn’t need to tell you that. While you shouldn’t feel pressured to get super-productive with your time (no need to write King Lear), it is worth thinking about the problems that might be costing you money as we speak. Chief among those problems? Plumbing leaks.

Did you know that a faucet that drips four times per minute wastes 138 gallons of water per year? A hairline fracture in a pipe that’s leaking could waste even more–even if you don’t see it. Any type of plumbing leak, no matter how apparently inconsequential, is costing you money. One of the most cost-effective things you can do while social distancing is finding and fixing these leaks. Make these repairs as soon as you can.


We can help! Home repair companies like Mike Diamond are considered essential and remain open during the shelter in place mandate. Our experts take all the necessary precautions to keep you safe while we provide our services.

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