Floridians pay an average of $1,900 per annum—40% higher than the U.S. average—for electricity. There are numerous measures a homeowner can take to reduce consumption and the monthly bill besides just turning off the A/C and suffering in the heat. Many of these are simple household practices that require a change in routine rather than a serious cash outlay or a technology upgrade. If the domestic budget permits, however, there are household and technological improvements available to reduce electrical consumption even more significantly. Where does a customer begin?
Electrical Audit of Premises
Many utilities, including Florida Power and Light (FPL), offer a free program allowing homeowners to gauge existing electrical use and identify potential sources of savings. With the FPL Energy Analyzer, for example, you can identify, monitor, measure, and control electrical usage. This program provides electrical consumption data 24/7/365. Homeowners can:
- obtain a precise breakdown of electricity costs by appliance
- access customized advice tailored to your appliance/usage pattern
- compare energy usage to area homes
- see annual, monthly, and daily details of electrical consumption
Building and Site Improvements
If the homeowner’s budget allows, there are several improvements that might decrease electrical consumption. First, determine whether the ceiling/attic is properly insulated and ventilated. The proper amount of insulation constitutes a barrier between the stifling attic air and the cool air of the living area. Ideally, there will be an attic ventilation system to regularly purge that space of overheated air. For, if the attic space is allowed to overheat, the air conditioner will run over time.
Second, to the extent the homeowner can reduce the amount of direct sunlight striking the roof and windows, cooling costs will decline. Consider that shade trees will reduce the amount of direct sunlight striking the roof, and exterior window shades and awnings will have the same effect as the windows.
Third, poor-quality windows will allow excessive heat or drafts into the house. And, finally, homeowners with forced air systems should confirm that the ductwork is properly sealed and insulated so that cool air remains cool as it passes through the system. A properly working electrical system is imperative, so do not leave that electrical repair unaddressed.
Monitor and Update Energy-Intensive Appliances and Fixtures
Your appliances themselves—air conditioning condensers, dishwashers, washers and dryers, water heaters, refrigerator/freezers—may be outdated and consuming more power than their modern equivalents. Installation of a programmable thermostat is advisable for homeowners who are regularly absent from home for several hours.
These thermostats are customizable for time and temperature, and with the appropriate technology, may be monitored and adjusted via the internet. Lower the temperature on your water heater by 10-20 degrees. Operate the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads. Monitor the operating condition of your major appliances.
Re-think Your Household Practices with Energy-Intensive Appliances.
To minimize air conditioning expenses, close all doors and windows during operation. Set the thermostat higher during waking hours, and use ceiling or floor fans to move air at low speed. Set the thermostat even higher in the evening and use fans. Reduce the number of hours that your pool pump operates (consistent with proper pool maintenance practices). Use floor and ceiling fans to move the air where it is desired, rather than super-cooling the entire house. Consider air-drying some or all of your laundry, or using the dryer at “off-peak” hours to take advantage of a rate reduction program offered by the electrical utility. To the extent, the homeowner can use less water, and less hot water, in the washing machine, electrical use can be reduced. If you can get the same results from your washing machine with cool or cooler water, do so.
Monitor and Update Less Energy-Intensive Appliances.
First, consider installing motion-activated switches to control lighting and fans. LED lighting and compact fluorescent bulbs use less electricity, generate less heat, and last much longer than standard equivalents. Place all that A/V and computer technology on power strips to avoid the endless “trickle” of energy. Use water-efficient shower heads. Monitor the HVAC system air filter(s) to ensure they are allowing the free flow of air. Eventually, the filters become clogged with dust and debris and must be changed. A reputable, experienced electrician can assist the homeowner with the installation or replacement of new switches, outlets, and fixtures.
Re-think Household Practices Even With Less Energy-Intensive Appliances.
Thoughtfully consider whether your clothing might be modified to reduce energy consumption. For example, if the house is a little cool, perhaps a sweater will suffice? Consider whether recurring appointments outside of the house might be regularized to permit the efficient use of a programmable thermostat. Spend time outside in the pool or reading in the breezy shade of your favorite tree rather than in an air-conditioned space.
Use Off-Peak and Other Utility Programs
Many electrical utilities offer financial incentives, in the form of discounted rates, to homeowners who voluntarily agree to move power-hungry household routines to off-peak hours. For example, a homeowner might run the dishwasher, do the laundry, and charge the electric vehicle during off-peak hours. Consider keeping the house a little warmer during the day (on-peak hours) and then cooling it down so you sleep comfortably (off-peak hours). Note that many electric utilities offer rebates for certain home improvements that reduce electrical demand. These improvements typically involve insulation, HVAC systems, water heaters, and perhaps windows.
There are numerous techniques every homeowner might use to reduce electric consumption and save money. Many of these cost-savings measures are adjustments to household routines and do not require any cash expenditure. Additional cost-savings tools are available to those homeowners able to invest in new technology, appliances, or fixtures. And, all utility customers might take advantage of utility programs that assist them in monitoring and reducing electrical consumption.
Air & Energy is a local, family-owned business. Since 1983, we have been your solution for all things air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical. Our mission is simple: to be your premier home service company, giving a customer experience that is Simply Better in every way. Air & Energy proudly provides quality service to all of Manatee County & Longboat Key.