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What you can do to lower those mounting utility bills during COVID-19 pandemic

PITTSBURGH — It's going on nearly two months of being home for most people and you may have noticed the impact on your wallet.

Some people say they’ve seen a spike in their utility bills.

EFFICIENCY TIPS: Duquesne Light | Pennsylvania American Water

"It's chaotic for them, it's chaotic for us, and we're all still trying to stick to some form of whatever this normal is," said Cranberry Township resident Ashley Downey.

It’s a full house for Downey who’s home with her husband, two daughters and two dogs.

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They've all been home for nearly two months with many changes to their daily routine.

“We have to put a lock on our refrigerator because our two-year-old during quarantine taught herself how to open it and get snacks. And so we found that we would come in and the refrigerator door would be open for you know, goodness knows how long.” Downey said.

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Many people who are home all day are finding higher utility bills.

“The water bill has gone up continuously over the last few months, our electric bill went up significantly the first month that we were home,” Downey said.

“Residential customers are consuming about 5% more energy than they were pre this stay at home order,” said Duquense Light President and CEO Steve Malnight.

Check your light bulbs to help save you money on those bills, Malnight said.

"Switch to LED lights for the light bulbs you use all around your house. Now, those can save a tremendous amount of energy," said Malnight.

Pennsylvania American Water says it’s “noticed a slight increase in residential customer usage in the Greater Pittsburgh area since March 1, 2020.”

Pittsburgh Water and Sewage Authority said it hasn't seen a spike in residential water but added that it bills differently.

"We actually bill by the thousands of gallons, so you could potentially increase your usage and not see a difference on your bill: that's why sometimes you might have an identical bill amount each month,” said PWSA Deputy Executive Director Will Pickering.

Both water companies said people can save money by shortening showers, doing laundry only when having a full load, and by scraping food off their dirty dishes.

"One tip that's kind of surprising and counterintuitive is using the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand can actually end up saving you water," said Pickering.

And if you’re struggling to pay your bill, reach out to your utility company, alert them, and find out if you qualify for any assistance on your bill.

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