If you, like many other people around the world find yourself working from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak, then you are well aware of the adjustments we’re having to make to be as comfortable as possible in our new reality. In addition, with the closure of some schools around the country, many of us are now juggling working, parenting, and now home-schooling all under the one roof.

With more bodies in the house, and more activities being undertaken in the home – our household utilities are set to get a little bit more of a workout than they’re otherwise used to. Whether it’s using our kitchen appliances more because we’re now cooking every meal at home, or charging multiple devices per person throughout the day to ensure we can complete our work –our household energy use will most likely increase.

With that being said, there are some straightforward, easy things that you can do around the home to ensure that you keep your usage down while we’re spending a lot more time at home. Here are our top tips!

It’s a simple concept – when you’re not at home for 10 or so hours each day because you and your family are out at work and school, then the lights at home stay off. But when the whole family is at home, people are continually moving between rooms and turning lights on, and sometimes just leaving them on.

When we’re at home, it’s important that we’re mindful of limiting our use of lights. This doesn’t just mean nagging the kids to make sure they’re not leaving lights on. Consider positioning your working from home area by a window, that gets a lot of natural light. Or if you’d like to go another step further, replace any old or existing light bulbs with LED options. LED lightbulbs use much less energy to provide the same amount of lighting as other bulbs, effectively saving you money in the long run and can be picked up at your local supermarket.

Let’s face it – when we’re working from home, our regular eating habits are pretty well out the window. Without the need for a traditional lunch break, and the fridge and pantry mere metres away, a lot of us are picking and snacking through the day (which isn’t helping our waistlines – but that’s another story).

This means we’re using a lot of dishes in a day. And that’s just taking one person into account – if you consider that in many households there are whole families at home right now, undertaking all kinds of out of the ordinary snacking behaviour, then you can understand the temptation to run the dishwasher regularly. Next time the household goes into a snacking frenzy, consider holding off on running the dishwasher and instead wait until it’s full to use it. This saves water and energy – a true win-win.

During this time of social distancing, the most productive of us will use our newfound free time to learn new skills and sharpen existing expertise. This doesn’t necessarily mean professionally either; we may want to learn how to paint, sew, practice yoga, or meditate.

You may also be looking to brush up on your culinary skills. Use this time to explore new recipes, cuisines, diets and cooking techniques. Oven use takes up a substantial chunk of a household’s utilities usage – but not every meal needs to done in the oven. Teach yourself to make a Michelin star meal using an electric frypan, a pressure cooker, or even the microwave.

If the kids are home from school, get them involved too. Pick easy recipes, that don’t require an oven and soon enough they’ll have dinner ready on the table for you. Check out these easy oven-free recipes that the kids will equally love to prepare and eat.

With the COVID-19 outbreak occurring when it has, in most pockets of the country we’re experiencing mild weather right now. That means we do not have to rely too heavily on heating and air conditioning, if at all.

However, the longer we stay in relative isolation; the colder the weather is going to get in states like Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia. As the weather begins to cool, we may start using our heating more and more, which in many cases requires a significant amount of electricity.

It’s important that during these difficult months, our home spaces are as comfortable as possible. We’re not suggesting that you don’t use your heating and suffer through the cold; we’re simply suggesting that you’re mindful of your usage. By adding an extra blanket and turning off the heating at night, you are saving on unnecessary energy usage and cost.

Now is the time to leave the ball gowns and the three-piece suits at the back of the closet, ready to roll out in the more social times that lie ahead. No need to dress to impress when you’re at home, you could be in your pyjamas and colleagues on the other end of a video conference call wouldn’t know the difference.

Being at home generally means we can get a little more wear out of our clothes, which means we can be doing fewer loads of washing. In addition, if waiting until you’ve got a full load, and only use cold water, can save substantially on energy and water usage.

There’s also less pressure on us to have our office attire, or the kid’s school uniforms ready for the week ahead – so if we don’t get to the laundry until Sunday afternoon, it’s no big deal if it’s not quite dry for Monday morning. Use this time working from home to avoid using the dryer, and instead get back to hanging clothes out on the line.

Our customer service team is always on hand to help you when it comes to your energy bills. They are trained to provide you with up to date tips, can offer you more insight into your usage habits and discuss your options.

As the situation with COVID-19 changes, many people will experience financial stress or hardship through no fault of their own. At WINconnect, we have many ways that we can help you through these times, including providing extensions, payment plans or access to our hardship program WINassist.

If you believe you will have trouble making payments or are experiencing financial hardship, please contact your customer service team on 1300 791 970. For more information on our WINassist program or more helpful tips, please head to our Financial Support and Hardship page.

So there you have it – our top tips for keeping energy usage down when spending more time at home during the COVID-19 outbreak. We wish health and safety to all our customers during these challenging times.