We are well into the Fall season when pumpkin spice abounds and Halloween is fresh in everyone’s minds. And while we might want to dress up like it’s cold outside, we live in Florida and unfortunately still have to run our A/C most days! The holidays will be here before we know it and this time of year everyone can use some ways to save. Florida Power and Light Company (FPL) provides valuable resources to customers to help manage energy usage and save our families some money!
The Biggest Energy Consumers
What appliances use the most energy in our homes? FPL provides an Online Home Energy Survey which can help you learn more about your energy needs. Of, course the air conditioner topped the list accounting for up to 50% or more of your bill. This is especially true when it is really hot outside or the A/C has to work longer to keep our homes cool. Other top energy consumers include pool pumps, the dryer (especially if it is older or you are doing multiple loads of laundry) and lights.
How Can You Cut Costs and Save Energy
We can’t get escape the heat and our households need lights and clean clothes! So how do we save money using these appliances?
- A/C Tips: FPL recommends setting your thermostat to 78 degrees when you are home and 82 degrees or more when you are away. While 82 degrees may feel warm, keep in mind, you can save up to 5% on your monthly cooling costs for every degree you bump up your thermostat temperature in the summer. It’s also important to replace or clean the air filters about once a month. Remember to change the filter on the same day as you pay your bill. Or set a reminder on your phone. Last, but not least, keep your A/C system working its best by having routine maintenance. System efficiencies turn into savings.
- Pool pumps: If it’s time to invest in a new pump, consider a variable speed pump – they are the most energy efficient. Otherwise, reduce the number of hours you run the pump, reducing runtime by 2 hours a day can reduce your bill by almost $100 a year!
- Washer & Dryer: Like your AC system, make sure your washer machine and dryer are clean and working properly. Always clean the lint filter, since it gets clogged and will make the dryer work longer and harder. Wash in cold water and save up to $30 a year.
- Lights: Upgrade your lighting to LEDs. LEDs can save you 75 to 80 percent on lighting costs — with the same amount of light. Each LED can save you $85 in energy costs over the life of the bulb. Now that’s bright! Did you know, if you replace four 60-Watt standard light bulbs with LED bulbs, and you use them for four hours a day, you can save $29 a year. Make sure to check your lamp’s compatibility for LED’s before you purchase!
- Cooking: When you cook inside, your oven uses energy AND heats up your home. If possible, grill outside. If that isn’t an option, you can use smaller appliances, i.e.: microwave, toaster oven, or my Fall favorite, the crockpot. When using the oven, don’t open and close the door! Use the oven light instead.
- Air Escapes: Use weather stripping to seal up spaces between the door and ground, windows, etc. and prevent the weather outside from affecting your indoor air quality and comfort. Earn a rebate up to $190 for adding recommended levels of ceiling insulation when you work with a Participating Independent Contractor. FPL offers more information on this topic here. This is good for Winter as well!
- Smart Plugs: A smart plug is a plug that goes into your wall that you are able to remotely activate. If you have a lamp plugged into a smart plug, you can turn it off with your phone! You can use it as added security – turn it on if you are going to be later than you thought or if you have pets you can turn it on when it gets dark instead of leaving it on all day!
- Smart Thermostat: A smart thermostat can be an investment up front, but this technology gives you the ability to control your A/C remotely and take advantage of many other features. In addition to using them from your phone, some have voice commands, like the ecobee4 which is Alexa enabled. Traditional thermostats measure the temperature in the hallway where that thermostat is and based on that the A/C turns on and off. The ecobee4 smart thermostat has room sensors that you can install so it can measure the air temperature around the house more accurately.
Energy Saving Myths
Will you catch a cold going outside with wet hair? We can’t answet those mom-mysteries, but here are some answers to burning energy saving “myths” you might be believing are true!
MYTH: Completely turn off your A/C when you are not home to save even more. In actuality, keeping your A/C on and at a higher temperature will reduce the amount of work your unit will have to do to “catch up” to your comfortable temperature when you return.
MYTH: Fans help circulate the air and help the A/C work more efficiently. Fans help, but only if you are in the room because fans cool skin, NOT the room. For each fan you constantly have running, it could represent up to $7 on your monthly bill! Turn OFF fans when you leave the room. Stopping just one ceiling fan from running constantly can save you about $85 a year.
Just Say Yes – Calling Alexa! FPL is proud to announce their own Alexa Skill. What is Alexa?
Moms can always use an extra hand, or two, or three! Alexa, Amazon’s virtual personal assistant, has been around for about two years, and it keeps getting smarter. It lives inside the Amazon’s Echo smart speaker, among other devices, such as the new ecobee4 smart thermostat and can listen to your voice commands and respond with contextual responses to help you get the job done. Alexa can help create to-do lists, shop, and even control your smart home products, like Google’s Nest thermostat, ecobee4 smart thermosat or the Philips Hue Lights.
What is the FPL Alexa Skill?
FPL developed an Amazon Alexa Skill with energy saving tips. FPL customers can download the Alexa Skill free from the Amazon Alexa Skill Store, for more details click here. Then, try it out by speaking to Alexa, “Ask FPL for energy savings tips.” The FPL Alexa Skill is free.
FPL also has a new Mobile App to help manage your usage or even pay your bill on the go! If you prefer using your home computer, you can go online to see your energy dashboard to help you understand and manage your energy usage – down to the month, day or hour. Learn when you use the most energy. Check out the previous blog post here with more information. With all these smart tools and ways to save, we are ready to take advantage and live “smarter”, are you?
Remember to start by taking the FPL’s Online Home Energy Survey by October 31, 2017, and be entered to win a $10,000 Smart Home Makeover to help you along the way!