Is Staying at Home Impacting Your Electricity Bills?

by Lacy Stockton | Jul 13, 2020

Our lives have shifted dramatically over the last few months in response to COVID-19, and so has our electricity use. Overall, we’re all using more energy at home as we “Stay Home, Stay Healthy.”

More energy used at home means higher bills, something worth keeping in mind for the hot summer months ahead. Luckily, the Chelan County PUD has many ways to help you save energy, whether you’re looking for simple, free adjustments or serious home upgrades.

Stay Home, Stay On

It’s no secret that fewer of us leave our homes these days, whether for work or play. Google has tracked changes to mobility during COVID-19 shutdowns. In Chelan County, Google estimates that visits to workplaces are down about 43%, retail visits are down 13%, and time at home is up 10%. So, for many of us, our homes are always “on.”

Google mobility charts for retail, workplaces and residential for May 2020
Google estimates movement trends in Chelan County for May and part of June, 2020, compared with a 2019 baseline.

In terms of electricity use, these changes in our lives make every day look more like a weekend. Normally, we would see a decrease in home energy use during weekdays as many of us leave for work and school and a peak around dinner.

With schools and many workplaces closed, our midday electricity use at home just doesn’t drop like it used to. Instead, our demand for electricity increases as the day goes on.

This trend of increased home electricity use during the last few months has been noted across the country. One study, which focused on homes in Austin, Texas, in March, estimated that electrical demand in homes was up by 20% — and it wasn’t even summer yet!

Staying On in Chelan County

Chelan PUD has seen residential electricity increase this year, too. This May, there was a 5% increase in residential electricity use compared with May 2019. This may not sound like much, but it’s the equivalent of powering an additional 2,100 homes.

Only about 515 housing units were added over the last year, which doesn’t account for this increase in electricity use.

What’s more, the weather in much of Chelan County this May was relatively cooler than in past years, which would require less electricity use, not more.

weekly high temperature for the month of May for 2018-2020
May rolling weekly average high temperatures for 2018, 2019 and 2020. May 2020 was seasonally mild with few days requiring home cooling.

Keeping Your Cool at Home

What’s likely causing an increase in your home electricity use?

Air conditioning use at home has likely increased as we try to keep cool throughout the day, every day. We generally give our ACs a break when we are away from our home, but now we’re home more often. This increase in AC use will be even more pronounced this summer as temperatures rise, so it’s more important than ever to use these summer conservation tips to save energy and money.

Refrigeration is also a big contributor to increased electricity use, according to in the Austin study. If we eat at home more, we likely open the fridge more often. All this opening spills out cool air, warming up the refrigerator and requiring electricity for the refrigerator to cool back down. Storing warm leftovers also kicks your fridge into high gear.

Avoid a Summer Bummer

Staying comfortable at home this summer doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. Check out our conservation tips for low- and no-cost ways you can save energy this summer. There are many inexpensive ways to help keep the cool in and the heat out.

If it’s time for upgrades to your home, Chelan PUD offers cash back. #RebatesAreReal

Find details on all cash-back programs at, email, or call (509) 661-4382.

Stay cool and stay healthy, neighbors.

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