NORFOLK, Va. - Heating your home this winter is predicted to cost you more due to the pandemic, according to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The report cites the coronavirus pandemic, people working from home, children attending virtual classes and a predictably colder winter.
Old Dominion University economics professor Robert McNab said this is an example of energy supply and demand.
"Now you have thousands and thousands and thousands of homes in Hampton Roads that would be cooler during the day that will now be heated during the day,” McNab said, “because the kids are home, the parents are home, and everybody's working their best because of social distancing and the pandemic."
The report stated someone could spend about 7% more for electricity, about 6% for natural gas and roughly 14% more for propane. Heating oil is predicted to drop about 54 cents per gallon.
"The rules of a normal winter have sort of gone out the window,” McNab said. “We need to think of this as an extraordinary event and take extra precautions."
“In addition, many people have lost their jobs or their jobs have cut back, so they're struggling to pay their bills,” Bonita Billingsley Harris, the regional director with Dominion Energy, said.
Utility companies like Dominion Energy also foresee greater energy use. Harris said the utility company is working with customers on their bills and is not disconnecting power.
"We're to do everything we can to keep our customers connected,” Harris said.
Harris explained a few tips you can do to cut costs, starting with the electric bill. That includes unplugging your phone and other rechargeable devices after it is done charging. She also suggested to turn off electronics when you are not using them.
"Set your thermostat at 68 degrees” Harris explained. “Just remember that for every degree you're willing to lower your thermostat, you can save 5-10% on your monthly bill."
McNab suggested having money on the side for emergency expenses.
"It never hurts to prepare by putting some extra money away in case there's surprises we don't see on the horizon,” McNab said.