The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted how people spend money. People stopped buying pants because they only needed nice shirts for Zoom meetings. Fewer people are eating out and no one is traveling. However, not all expenses are going down. Some are increasing dramatically. This guide will focus exclusively on your electric bills to understand why they are on the rise.

You are home more and use more electricity.

The main reason why your electric bills have suddenly increased is that you are home more. Working from home means you are powering your laptop throughout the day, keeping the lights on when they would otherwise be off, and turning on the TV during the day. Even if you didn’t change any of your other behaviors, working from home (or staying home when furloughed) will increase your electric rates.

Aside from working remotely, there are other factors that are increasing your electricity usage. For example, by staying in to cook instead of eating out, you use the stove and oven more. You run the dishwasher more frequently and plug in your phone to read a recipe or play music while you prepare dinner. All of these steps require small amounts of electricity, but they add up.

Air conditioning is a major electricity cost.

As the lockdown extends through summer months, people are staying home and turning on their HVAC systems. While most homeowners adjust their thermostats to warmer temperatures when they are gone to save money, no one is leaving the house right now. This means AC units run throughout the day and into the night.

Your air conditioner is a significant part of your electric bill. On average, your air conditioner makes up 12% of your home energy expenditure. If you live in the American South, where it is predominantly hot and humid, your electric bills could make up more than 27% of your energy use.

There are ways to lower your energy bills without reducing your dependence on air conditioning. For example, you can sign up for AC maintenance services to clean and repair your system. A professional technician will run through a checklist on your AC unit, checking your condenser coil and evaporator coil, freeing your drain lines of debris, and inspecting your thermostat. This preventative maintenance can lower your electric bills and extend the life of your unit.

Look for alternative electricity providers.

If your electric bills continue to spike despite your efforts to lower them, you may want to consider finding an alternative electricity supplier. Some people think that there is a monopoly for electric providers in their area, but you may be able to find a supplier who is lesser-known but has competitive rates. There are a few electricity compare websites you can use to find a provider that works for you.Additionally, if you own your home and want to invest in your house instead of paying a utility company each month, consider going off the grid entirely and investing in solar panels. Solar panels can be expensive to install, but they will pay for themselves over time through your energy savings. They can also increase the resale value on your home, helping you quickly recoup your initial investment. Solar panels aren’t right for everyone, but it is important to note that you have options to change your electric supplier or go off the grid if you aren’t happy with your bills.

Once you understand why your electricity usage has increased, you can take steps to lower it. They will likely stay unnaturally high until the lockdown ends, so know that you are saving money in other ways—by not needing to buy gas or spending money on weekend activities. This can help you keep your budget balanced until this is over.