October is Energy Action Month

In 2011, President Obama declared October Energy Action Month. With the goal of encouraging Americans to conserve energy and water, this month is an excellent time to look at our own habits and think about changes that will benefit our environment and our families’ pocketbooks.

October is usually the month in Florida when the heat of summer truly wanes and the cool breezes of fall start to pick up, making it an excellent time to adjust to new routines that suddenly include the more hospitable outdoors.

In honor of the fifth Energy Action Month, here are five changes to consider which save energy without sacrificing comfort this fall:

1. Open Up to Natural Ventilation – As long as the relative humidity does not exceed 70%, turning off your air conditioning and allowing the cool fall air into your home can be a great energy saver. A simple humidity monitor is all you need to help you keep track. Using natural ventilation is refreshingly energy efficient and a great way to enjoy the changing season this October.

2. Be a Fan of Ceiling Fans – Ceiling fans do not lower the temperature in a room, but instead create a breeze to help you and your guests feel more comfortable. Operated normally, ceiling fans can allow you to raise your thermostat’s temperature by 4° F without feeling any warmer. As the weather cools, consider reversing the direction of your ceiling fan. If you’re looking to get a little warmer and cozier, most ceiling fans will help when operated in the reverse direction by forcing the warm air that has risen to the top of the room back down to you. Either way, remember to switch the fan off when you leave the room – they use energy but offer no benefit when left on in an unoccupied room.

 

Using ceiling fans wisely, including choosing more efficient light bulbs, is a great way to save energy and money.

Using ceiling fans wisely, including choosing more efficient light bulbs, is a great way to save energy and money.

3. Let the Light Shine In – During the summer, keeping your windows shaded saves you money by reducing the amount of heat that enters your home which your air conditioner then has to remove from the air to leave you feeling cool and comfortable. Once temperatures take a turn for the cold side, this becomes less of a concern. Natural daylight is both energy efficient and desirable, so consider turning off that lamp and opening up your blinds.

4. Know When It’s Time to Change – The air filters in your home’s heating and air conditioning system are key to maintaining good indoor air quality and system efficiency. Changing these filters regularly allows for better filtration of the air and for air to circulate through your home more easily, saving energy by not requiring the heating and cooling system to work harder to force the air through clogged filters. Filters should be replaced at least once every three months and up to once a month during peak season or if certain conditions, such as indoor smokers or multiple pets, are present in your home.

5. Get with the Program – A programmable thermostat can be a wise investment for those of us with relatively consistent schedules. A programmable thermostat allows you to schedule different temperatures in your home at different times of day. For example, during the cooling season, you can let your home warm by a few degrees when no one is there and then cool back to a more comfortable temperature before you come home from work. During the warming season, you can program for the opposite to occur. By not requiring your home heating and cooling system to work as hard, you save energy and money without even noticing.

Your thermostat is a key player in your home's energy efficiency. Installing and using a programmable model can add up to serious energy savings.

Your thermostat is a key player in your home’s energy efficiency. Installing and using a programmable model can add up to serious energy savings.

These are just five of the nearly endless ways you can commit to saving energy this Energy Action Month. If you’re interested in learning more you can register now for one of our Pinellas Energy Efficiency Project (PEEP) courses.

Resources:
UF/IFAS Energy Efficient Homes Series
Energy Saver Tips for Fall and Winter

Contributed by Heather Landis, Urban Sustainability Program Assistant