Photo by Naomi Hebert

By Danielle Lachance

Times have changed when it comes to energy, and you can change too, by adopting a variety of techniques to save money for both the short and long run.

Today’s households are using a lot of energy in handling various tasks, including lighting, cooking, washing, entertainment, and cooling or warming the house. However, staying on top of the energy usage around your home is simpler than you may assume. And no, you don’t have to stay in the dark or forego a movie to shrink your energy bills. One of the best ways to do it is by making small changes to your house. Reports indicate that about 30% of the heating/cooling energy in a home is lost through its windows. Nevertheless, there are other techniques and methods you can use to ensure you significantly cut down on the energy bills, especially here in Florida. These include:

Minimize the Usage of Electric Lights

Using the natural sunlight during the day, and opting for minimal electric lights at night – or even trying a more romantic glow with candles – are some of the best ways to slice down your utility bills. Additionally, it would be wise to switch off the lights in the rooms that are not being used; if the room isn’t occupied, switching off the lights can help save money. An extra tip: to let in enough sunlight during the day, consider upgrading your windows and doors. Florida residents can carry out this upgrade by replacing their standard windows with energy-efficient windows and doors that comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Conduct HVAC System Maintenance

Living in Florida, you know how important your air conditioning is. But how often do you check, repair, and upgrade your HVAC system? The air filters need to be regularly changed for it to function as required. Most homeowners forget that, and it ends up increasing their utility bills. Periodically changing the air filter means your energy bills will not skyrocket  as much during the hot summer months experienced in Florida. And remember, HVAC systems are used in workplaces, too. A 2018 report by Nielsen revealed that 81% of consumers worldwide are of the idea that such companies should also strive to protect the environment. For efficient cooling of your home or office, it is advisable to conduct air filter changes every month and AC maintenance twice a year.

Minimize Oven Usage

The oven consumes a lot of gas or electricity, mainly when used for large meals. It is recommendable to go for a cooking appliance smaller than the oven, such as the use of the stovetop only, when viable. People who have owned homes in Florida for a while understand the importance of using an oven as little as possible. However, in 2019, it was reported that 25% of home buyers that year were first-time buyers. These are the people who need to be given detailed information about oven usage. On the flip side, slow cookers, microwaves, electric skillets, and toaster ovens are said to consume less energy, and they are a perfect alternative choice.

Install Ceiling Fans

Research has revealed that using ceiling fans can cool you down three or four degrees further, thanks to the breeze they create, which has been compared to the effectiveness of an actual outdoor breeze. The use of ceiling fans ensures that you use your air conditioner less, reducing energy consumption immensely. Ceiling fans are beneficial even in winter because they can distribute the ceiling’s heat through their rotations. However, there are some key points to remember: (a) use the fan only when people are in the room — they are meant to cool people and not spaces; (b) ensure the blades are set at winter mode every fall.

Cover Any Gaps and Spaces

The gaps and spaces on your doors and windows can lead to your cooling and heating system overworking to keep your home temperature stable. During summer, the hot air from outside penetrates through the cracks into your house, increasing the indoor temperature. During winter, the hot air inside the house seeps out and lowers the temperature significantly. As the cooling and heating system works harder for longer, more energy is consumed in the process. Weatherproofing your home and reinforcing your windows’ and doors’ insulation is a perfect way to achieve an energy-efficient home.

There is so much that you can do to ensure you achieve energy efficiency in your home. The points listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more ways to make sure the energy used in your home is as little as possible. The good news is that, according to www.energystar.gov, the Energy Star program under the Energy Department lowers energy bills by 7% to 15%.

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