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UF expert gives tips to cut your energy costs

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — We take for granted lights, comfortable temperatures and long, hot showers until we get the monthly energy bill.

Jan. 10, which is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, serves as a reminder of how we can reduce those costs. By following some simple suggestions, we can save money on our energy bills by following easy tips, says a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences expert.

“Approximately 30 percent of your bill is just little things that you can do that don’t affect your life,” said Wendell Porter, a UF/IFAS senior lecturer in agricultural and biological engineering. “It’s not like you’re going to suffer for them – that you can save on your own bills. All these add up to a good chunk of money.”

Porter gives tips to control your electric costs:

  • Ideally, the thermostat should be set at 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees during the summer, Porter said.​  If the thermostat set points are different than these, adjust them one degree at a time and let everyone in the home acclimate themselves to the new environment.
  • Use LED – or light-emitting diode – lights. They save energy in the long term because they’re seven times more efficient as incandescent light bulbs, Porter said. They also last longer. LED lights cost up to $4 each, while incandescent bulbs run about 50 cents, but the consumer will get that money back in lower energy bill within the first two months of their purchase, he said.
  • Ceiling fans, while popular in Florida, cool only you, not the whole room. So, Porter urges people to turn them off when they leave the room.
  • Turn off ceiling fans, lights and other electronic devices when you’re not using them.
  • Porter refers to a phenomenon called “phantom power,” which is electricity that is on all the time — even when you’re not using the device. This includes most anything in a home entertainment center. Porter urges people to turn off the power strips for TV sets, stereos, etc. Over the course of a year, if you remember to turn off the power strips, you could save a month’s worth of an electric bill, he said.
  • In some cities, the electric and water bill are combined. Consider installing low-flow showerheads; they help cut the cost of running the water heater. Water heating is the second largest energy expense in your home and typically accounts for about 18 percent of a utility bill after heating and cooling, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. To conserve hot water, fix leaks, install low-flow fixtures and buy an energy efficient dishwasher and clothes washer.

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By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

 

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