Monday, April 26, 2021
A Message from Carrie Black, Director, Energy Conservation and Sustainability
Summer is around the corner, and as the temperature gets hotter, there are things you can do to prevent your utility bill from increasing as well. Saving money and saving energy is a win for you and the planet.
Know Where to Start
For Florida residences, around 30% of energy usage is for heating and cooling and 14% is for heating water, the largest individual categories for energy consumption.
Save on Air Conditioning
- Thermostat Settings: This is one of the easiest ways to save money on utilities. For cooling, the recommended setting is 78˚F or higher. When you aren’t home, you can raise it to 82˚F or higher for extra savings.
- Fans: Ceiling and table fans are a great way to keep the thermostat higher and feel comfortable. Fans can make it feel 3-5% cooler to room occupants, due to convective heat loss, or the movement of air assisting with sweat evaporation. As a result, fans cool people, not rooms — so turn them off when you leave the room.
- Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning System Maintenance: Check and replace your air filters regularly, make sure the HVAC system outside unit is clear of debris and obstructions, and check for air leaks as these make your system work harder.
- Fireplace Damper: If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper is closed when not in use. This is like leaving a window wide open!
Save on Water Heating
- Lower Water Heater Temperature: Most households only need to set their hot water heater to 120˚F, instead of the manufacturer default of 140˚ In fact, 120˚F is recommended by pediatricians for young children. Find out how to easily check the temperature with a cup and thermometer and then make any needed adjustments here. The potential savings are 4-22% annually.
- Going on Vacation? Give It a Vacation Too: Going away for more than two days? Turn your hot water heater to the “vacation” setting or turn it off completely. If you have a gas version and turn it off, be sure you know how to relight the pilot light. Leave yourself a reminder to adjust it back when you get home, as no one likes a cold shower.
- Wash Full Loads and Use Cold Water: Run full loads for both your dishwasher and washer. Use cold water settings as much as possible on your washer.
Looking for more ideas?
Lighting, appliances and electronics are large consumers of energy in residences as well. Switching out any incandescent lights to LEDs will not only save you money on the energy required to operate the light, but also in cooling costs, as LEDs don’t put out as much heat.
For electronics, plug devices that have similar usage into a power strip, so they can be completely turned off with one switch. Many smart plugs also include schedules and/or timer functions as well.
Find out even more ideas with this guide from the U.S. Department of Energy.