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Expect higher than normal utility bills during coronavirus crisis

Utility companies warn customers the increased electricity and water usage from being home throughout the day will affect their bills. They offer tips to curb costs.

WASHINGTON — The coronavirus pandemic has people across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia staying at home to avoid spreading the virus.

Utility companies are warning customers the increased electricity and water usage from being home throughout the day will affect their bills.

Dominion Energy spokeswoman Peggy Fox, and WSSC Water spokesperson Lyn Riggins told WUSA9 they do not want their customers to be blindsided during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In a way, every day to us, in terms of water usage, looks sort of like a Saturday," Riggins described.

She explained while water usage at commercial buildings has dropped, people at residential properties are using more water.

"So, what that means is the amount of water that we're making to meet the demand is the same as what it normally is," Riggins said. "In the end, what’s that going to mean for the customer? It’s going to mean that they're going to have larger bill."

WSSC Water suggested there are some ways to keep customers' water bills from becoming uncontrollably expensive.

Riggins suggested checking for toilet and shower leaks, taking shorter showers, and using the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand.

"If you’re hand washing, maybe (you're using) 20-30 gallons washing your dinner dishes. Where you run your dishwasher, that’s 5 or 6 gallons depending on how old your dishwasher is," she added.

Fox told WUSA9 about half of people’s energy bill costs go to heating and cooling their homes.

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"On cooler days, try to keep your thermostat at 68 degrees. On warmer days -- 78 degrees," Fox said.

Dominion Energy suggested customers change air filters, unplug fully-charged devices, use LED lights, and turn lights out when not in use.

While utilities in the DMV will not shut off water or electricity during the crisis, customers are warned their bills keep adding up and eventually have to be paid.

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