In Florida, we depend heavily on air conditioning in the summer so it’s not surprising that residential electricity demand is so high. For residents who cool their homes by opening windows, electric heat is still needed in the winter. Even when your heating and cooling system is running at its most efficient, it can often amount to 40% of your electric bill. Floridians’ home power consumption makes up 6% of all electricity consumed in the U.S. and the typical Florida home spends about $1,500 per year. For a regional look at energy bills, check this link or this one.
As winter approaches, it’s time to inspect your home heating system. If your system isn’t well maintained, it has to work harder and use more energy to keep you comfortable. The cost of a routine inspection is often less costly than repairs in the long run.
Here are a few tips to get ready for winter:
- Change your filter. I’m sure you’ve heard this many times but it does make quite a difference. A dirty filter forces your system to work harder which uses more energy. Replacing the filters saves energy and reduces dust around the home.
- Install a programmable thermostat. If you don’t have one, you will have to manually adjust the settings for the unit. With a programmable thermostat, you can schedule the time blocks when your heating system operates, with lower temperatures in winter while you are asleep or when you are away from home. Before purchasing, make certain the thermostat is designed to operate with your system.
- Use ceiling fans. In the summer, ceiling fans help you feel cooler but they are also useful in the winter. Operating the fan in the reverse direction forces warm air near the ceiling back down into the room. There is a switch on the fan that will allow you to reverse the direction. Remember that ceiling fans keep people comfortable, but do not change the actual temperature of the air so be sure to use them only if someone is in the room.
- Check the refrigerant charge. The circulating fluid in your air conditioner is a special refrigerant gas put in when the system is installed. If the system is overcharged or undercharged with refrigerant, it will not work properly. You will need a service contractor to check the fluid and adjust it appropriately.
- Dress appropriately. Remember that it’s fall/winter so dress for the temperature. Layering clothes helps to keep you warmer and it means you can turn your heater down.
For more information on how to get energy-ready for a Florida winter, check out the links below. Note that tax credits are available through December 31, 2016 for energy efficiency upgrades and equipment.