In today's world, where energy costs are steadily rising, finding ways to save money on your electric bill is not only financially wise but also environmentally responsible. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can implement to reduce your energy consumption and lower those monthly electricity costs.
We spoke with several local experts here in Central Florida to find out how to save money on electric bills. Here are some of the tips they shared with us, from optimizing your air conditioning system to improving insulation and landscaping, to help you achieve significant savings on your electric bill.
Air Conditioning Efficiency
Air conditioning can be a major contributor to high energy bills, especially during the scorching summer months. Ciara Keyt of Anchored A/C and Heating, recommends not changing the thermostat excessively with an ideal temperature for the unit being between 75-78. Ricky Miller of Miller's Central Air, Inc says “Setting the thermostat between 76-78 degrees will help prevent mold from growing and keep the system from from having to fight to cool an unoccupied house.” Ensuring your AC unit is appropriately sized for your home is another way to maximize efficiency. An oversized unit can lead to short cycling, reducing efficiency.
A programmable or wifi thermostat will help regulate your home's temperature more efficiently as it can be set to raise the temperature when you're away and lower it when you're home. Wight “Consider a wifi thermostat so you never forget to raise the temperature on the unit.” says Joanne Wight of Action Heating and Cooling
Scheduling an annual HVAC maintenance will ensure your system is operating at peak efficiency. “Preventive maintenance is key.”, says Keyt, “If you keep it clean, it will save you money.” Dirty filters and clogged vents can make your AC work harder, consuming more energy. Rebecca Hudson of Refrigeration and Electric Services recommends changing your filter once a month with a poly media filter, as well as a bi-annual coil cleaning.
Energy audits can be helpful for homeowners looking to save money on their energy bill. “Getting an Energy Audit can help you understand your home's energy use and help identify ways to become more energy efficient,” says Wight, “which is important when looking to save money.” Some electric coops, like Lakeland Electric, provide this service at no cost.
Windows play a vital role in your home's insulation. “The First thing you want to do is make sure your windows are installed correctly,” says Jenna O'Ferrell of Central Window Sales, Inc, “Poor installation leads to air infiltration.” Some signs of poor window installation include noticeable Gaps, drafts, water damage around the frame or window sill, sticky windows, foggy window panes, and sloppy caulking. If you notice your windows are installed incorrectly you can reach out to your original contractor or contact and window company to correct the issue.
If you are building a home or looking to replace your windows, double-pane windows provide better insulation compared to single-pane windows, reducing heat transfer. Low–emissivity glass is another highly energy efficient window option. Low-e coatings help your windows regulate the amount of heat that enters or leaves your home. If you are not ready to replace your windows, applying window films to existing windows to improve insulation and reduce UV rays, which can heat up your home.
As with windows, you want to inspect and seal any gaps or leaks around doors and ducts. This prevents conditioned air from escaping and unconditioned air from entering your home. This prevents drafts and reduces the load on your heating and cooling systems. If you are going to buy a new door, O'Ferral recommends Fiberglass over metal as they are not conduters of heat or cold making them more energy effiecient. Also, If you are buying a prehung door you want to make sure it fits tights and has a good seal.
Window Treatments and screens can reduce the amount of heat entering your home and save energy.It is helpful to install energy-efficient window treatments like blinds, shades, or curtains to keep heat out during the summer and trap it inside during the winter. When screening your windows or porch, Jacilyn Richardson of Bobby Lee Aluminum recommends Super Solar Screening because, “It takes away 90% of the Sun Heat – therefor reducing the heat of the home.”
Your roof plays a vital role in maintaining your home's temperature and overall energy efficiency. There are a few energy efficient roofing options including cool roofs, green roofs, and metal roofs. Cool roofs are designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than standard roofs. They can significantly reduce the amount of heat transferred into your home, helping you save on cooling costs.
Green roofs involve a layer of vegetation planted on the roof's surface. This not only provides excellent insulation but also helps reduce energy consumption by moderating indoor temperatures. Metal roofs are highly reflective and can be coated with reflective materials to increase their energy efficiency. They are durable and long-lasting, making them a cost-effective choice in the long run. “The reflection of sunlight will lower surface temperatures on the roof and subsequently reduce attic temperatures, lowering energy costs,” says James Curtis of R.I.G Roofing. Metal roofs are considered to be one of the best options by many roofer and can last for up to 50 years.
Another option is installing solar panels on your roof which can help offset your electricity consumption by generating clean, renewable energy. While the upfront cost can be significant, the long-term savings and environmental benefits are substantial. Regardless of the roofing material you choose, you will want to ensure your attic is well-insulated. Proper attic insulation can prevent heat from penetrating your home during hot summers and keep warm air from escaping during the winter.
A well-insulated home can keep your living space comfortable while significantly reducing the need for heating and cooling. Properly insulate your attic to prevent heat from escaping during the winter and entering during the summer. Spray foam is one of the cleanest, neatest and most cost effective options,” Mark Gose of M.E. Gose Construction says, “It can be added to you attic and you can still use the attic space”.
If you are building a new home, Gose recommends Fox Block Insulated Concrete forms, stating, “Fox Blocks are the way to go, but it's not cheap. Fox Blocks Insulated Concrete Forms are precision-manufactured, double-insulated forms for reinforced concrete walls making then a premier energy efficient building material. Adding or upgrading wall insulation can pay off in energy savings and can make a notable difference in maintaining a consistent indoor temperature.
Indoor Cost Saving Tips
Indoor use of lighting and appliances can factor into electrical costs as well. Mike Terry from Terry Electric and Maintenance, inc had a few tips for us. He recommends putting your hot water heater outside, using an exhaust fan in the kitchen to remove excess heat and using LED bulbs as they reduce cost by almost eighty percent. Also, keep an eye out for anything that uses ghost electricity. Ghost electricity, is power wasted by devices when they're not in use or even turned on.
Believe it or not, your landscaping choices can impact your energy bills. Planting shade trees strategically around your home can reduce the amount of direct sunlight it receives, helping to keep your home cooler in the summer. David Reel of Groundscapes recommends planting deciduous trees on the south and west side of your house.
We appreciate all of the advice we received from our local Central Florida professionals. Thanks for helping us better understand how to achieve significant savings on electric bills while enjoying a more comfortable and energy-efficient home.