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As summer slowly settles in and temperatures steadily rise, most Americans will start hearing the gentle noise from their A/C kicking in. Every time I hear mine, I think $$$. Tough time for a Floridian! But there are so many ways to increase your home’s efficiency and reduce your electrical bill.
A few years ago, my husband called the power company to see if they could come for a free survey of our home to help us reduce our power bill. They looked at the historical records for our home and politely refused to come by since they did not understand how our bill could be so low.
Those are the tips we live and breathe, which help us save money while staying comfortable in the Florida summer!
1- Add a few degrees to your thermostat
No one really likes this one but it has to be #1 on my list. Do it. Just do it and wait a couple of days. Go ahead and raise the temperature of your home to 76 degrees, and increase to 78 over the next couple of weeks. No one needs their homes set on 72 degrees, believe me! And if you think you do, add those degrees gradually and see how you handle the change.
Many specialists will tell you that the optimal temperature is 78. This is when you still live comfortably without over-spending on energy costs. 78 is the temperature we set up when we are inside our home.
If you are used to much lower temperatures, give your body at least 3 days to get used to each degree and keep going until you reach at least 76. If you can make it to 78, you’ll be in really good shape!
This one is free and the easiest way to lower your power bill this summer!
2- Programmable thermostat
I firmly believe that investing in a programmable thermostat pays for itself. You can set up your home to run on a programmable timer. We have several automated changes happen every day:
- 78 degrees at wake-up
- 83 degrees when we leave the house for work
- 78 degrees kicking in 30 minutes prior to getting back from work
- 83 degrees about an hour after going to bed
On weekends, the temperature is set to 78 degrees during the day to keep us nice and cool while at home.
Christian spent less than 10 minutes setting this up and we never had to think about our thermostat since!
A programmable thermostat will run you between $30 for start-of-the-line to about $200 for a connected model such as the popular Nest. We’ve been very happy with our Honeywell but if you’re starting out, some cheaper models will get you the same benefits for a minimal investment! Also make sure that the thermostat you’re purchasing will work with your type of system (i.e., heat pump, etc.).
3- Leaving for a few days
With summer comes summer holidays and long weekends. If we leave our home for longer than a day trip, we set the air conditioning to 83 degrees. Remember that we are in Florida. We have left our home for several weeks at a time and never had any moisture or mold issues. Raise the temperature next time you leave your home!
That’s another free and easy one, with the potential to yield big savings if you’re gone for a while!
4- use your fans
While you get used to the raised temperatures, do not hesitate to turn on your fans. There will also be some days or nights when you feel warmer than usual. Before lowering your home temperature, turn on your fans.
Now, my word of caution with fans, because I see it happen too often. I will be driving through my town and seeing fans on front porches turn all day, and all night, for absolutely no reason. They are silent and you will forget they are turned on. But please, turn the fan off when you leave the room! I am always chasing fans and making sure the kids don’t turn theirs on right before leaving for school!
5- pamper your a/c
This one seems intuitive but we all get caught up with life and might forget those easy steps.
- change your air filers once a month
- consider getting your duct cleaned and inspected every 2 to 5 years. We did some home renovations and turned the A/C off to protect the duct. But when we moved in and turned the A/C back on, there was so much unsettled dust in the air that we had to get our duct cleaned up. We tend to wait at least 5 years to get ours cleaned, experts might tell you that’s too long but it works for us!
This is not a large investment and will prolong the life of your system and definitely keep it more efficient day after day!
6- install the right equipment
This final tip is a financial investment. I will break it up into 2 sections:
a- worth considering right now
If your A/C unit is 15 years or older, you might be better off purchasing a new and more efficient unit. Some say it will pay itself off. I can’t comment on that but older units will cost you a lot more money to run and anything older than 15 years should be considered for replacement.
B- consider later
Once your A/C unit is up for replacement, make sure to purchase the right size compressor for your home. It is tempting to purchase a smaller one since the cost is lower on smaller units. However, take a second to think about how much more a smaller unit will need to run to cool your space. Kind of like smaller wheels need to turn more to travel the same distance… Purchasing a unit of the right size will optimize your electrical costs. Trust your technician on this one – he’s probably not trying to up-sell you!
Cool responsibly this summer!
This is it from us!
We would love to hear from you! Let us know whether this article was helpful and if you’ve seen a decrease in your power bill by applying any of those easy tips! If we can do it, so can you! Just keep your mind set on what you could be doing with those savings!!!
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