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Cool Summer Savings

As summer comes into full swing, residents begin to use their cooling systems in overdrive to battle the Florida heat. For most people, this means a spike in their utilities bill because your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system will be working harder to keep your home cool. However, it does not have to be this way! There are many steps you can take to ensure your home is cooling properly and efficiently. That way you can avoid the headache of a massive energy bill during the summer months.

There are a few general maintenance steps you can follow before the warm weather arrives to ensure your HVAC system is working at its full potential. You may have heard this many times before, but changing your filter is one of the simplest ways to make a difference in your HVAC system. It is easy to forget, but by doing this, you will save energy and increase efficiency of your HVAC unit.

Bed room with ceiling fan and lights on.

Ceiling fans can help lower cooling costs by making the room feel cooler.

If you do not already have one, installing a programmable thermostat is a great way to keep your cooling costs low. Since you can set specific temperatures at certain times, you can be sure your cooling system is not over working. It is easy to forget to turn the thermostat up when you leave the house but this will eliminate that worry and help you save money. For example, if Monday through Friday you leave for work at 8:30am and no one is home until 3pm, then you can set your thermostat to 78°F or higher so your HVAC will work less during peak hours. When you are home, you can adjust to your desired temperature. Remember, when deciding what temperature you are comfortable with, every degree below 78°F your cooling costs increase by 8%.

The structure of your home can increase your cooling costs as well. Be sure to check all windows, electrical penetrations through the wall, the dryer’s exhaust, recessed lights, gaps around windows and doors, plumbing vent stack, etc. All of these allow for heat to enter your home, so your HVAC will work harder to keep it cool. Weather stripping and sealing any openings will solve that issue and keep your home envelope secure.

sunlight shining through the window overlooking the backyard

Be sure your windows are sealed and try covering them to keep rooms cooler.

Windows also allow a lot of heat to enter the home if they are not covered. Just like your car on a hot, sunny day, the sun’s rays shine through your home’s windows and heat up the inside. Shading windows with awnings or blinds, especially on the east-west windows in your home can assist in keeping your home cool. Another way to keep your home cooler is by installing ceiling fans. Although the fans themselves do not make your home any cooler, moving the air makes us feel cool allowing for the thermostat to be set a little higher. Remember to turn them off when you are not in the room!

These are all simple, easy ways to keep your cooling costs low. The summer months can be brutal in Florida, but that does not mean your energy bill has to be. Follow these steps and you should see a reduction in your cooling costs.


Additional Resources

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Contributed by Trevor Ackerman, Sustainability Program Assistant