Electric bill just hit your mailbox? If you live in Florida and it’s summer, you probably don’t even want to open it.
If you’re bummed out about high summer energy bills (and as energy companies raise their rates, those suckers will only get higher), take a look at 5 significant ways you can reduce your electric bill.
#1 Update your Air Conditioning System
Air conditioning is the number one draw on electricity in most Florida homes, accounting for as much as 50% of your household’s energy usage. Most of us will agree, keeping our house comfortable is worth a few bucks, but there are things you can do to make the price of staying cool less painful.
- Check the age of your A/C. Ideally your air conditioner should be less than 10 years old. If it’s older than 15, you really have a problem. Some older units can cost an extra $100 a month over newer, more efficient models. (What was considered “high efficient” ten years ago is at least two iterations behind modern efficiency standards.) Upgrading your A/C today can turn into big savings tomorrow.
- Get all your ducts in a row. If the ductwork in your attic is leaking or undersized, it’s like tying your A/C’s ankles together and then asking it to run. An HVAC specialist can help.
- Consider a Smart thermostat. Programmable “smart” thermostats help reduce A/C costs. Your savings will depend on your situation and habits, but Floridians can expect to save between 5% and 15% on air conditioning costs with a smart thermostat like the Nest.
#2 Look up… in your attic, specifically
Full disclaimer: this one is really about your air conditioner, too. The cooler your attic, the less work your A/C has to do, so it’s a sound investment to keep your attic from getting too hot. Here’s how to do that:
- Insulate Well. The best insulation for your attic is either standard batt insulation or a high-quality blown insulation like Owens Attic-Cat Corning blown insulation. These are both affordable and effective. You should have at least 6 inches of insulation in your attic; if not, you don’t have enough. If you can see the bottom joists of your rafters, that means your insulation is less than 3.5 inches deep and that’s bad news.
- Install a Solar Attic Fan. Everyone has passive heat vents in their attics. These are the ones that release hot air only when it builds up, and in Florida attic temps can get up to 180 degrees F. If you actively vent with a solar attic fan, that temperature drops to around 100 degrees F. That makes a big difference in the amount of heat your A/C has to work against!
#3 Replace Your Hot Water Heater
All hot water heaters degrade over time. With the buildup of sediment and regular aging, the unit becomes less efficient. If your hot water heater is 10 years old or older, it’s probably worth changing. If you fall into this category, here a few nuggets to chew on:
- On-demand has downsides. On-demand or “tankless” water heaters have become very popular in recent years and it does save money by only heating water when you need it rather than maintaining a large tank. The downside is that heating water this way is a huge energy draw at the moment you are doing it. Not a big deal when you are on the grid, but you can’t run an on-demand water heater off-grid, and the market is moving in the direction of microgrids and self-sustainability. Investing in an on-demand water heater might not be the way to go in the long term, especially if you ever see yourself wanting an off-grid solution during outages.
- Go hybrid instead. For most homes in Florida, a hybrid hot water heater is a huge savings. While a traditional two-element electric hot water heater’s Energy Guide sticker estimates a cost of $460 or $520 a year to run it, the hybrid hot water heater only takes $110. Hybrids work by pulling heat from the air around them, so they work particularly well when they are located in a non-air-conditioned space, like the garage. But even if your garage is under air, there are ways to pull heat from the attic or outdoors to make the system work.
#4 Get Rid of Your Beer Fridge
When we get a new fridge, most of us put the old clunker on a dolly and roll it out to the garage where it can enjoy a new life as the “beer fridge” or “extra fridge.” Unfortunately, there are two major problems with that. Between efficiency issues with older models and the fact that it’s running in a hot garage, you can expect to pay between $300 and $500 a year for the luxury of that extra appliance. Even in a best case scenario, that’s $25 a month!
Even if your extra fridge is on the newer side (manufactured before 2012), you’re still spending twice the amount of energy running it in a hot garage than you would in an air-conditioned space.
If you want to save money, consider putting a smaller mini-fridge or bar fridge inside the house so your drinks can stay cool without bleeding you dry.
#5 Go Solar
More and more Floridians are discovering that making their own power with solar saves money. Right off the bat, most people save $30 to $50 a month or more. And they save 60% in energy costs over the warrantied life of the system (25 years) and actually more than that because solar systems continue to work for 30, 40, and even 50 years or more, with little to no maintenance.
Long term, the total price tag for a solar system is between 32 and 38 percent of the cost of buying electricity from a utility. Even if you sell in a few years, most buyers are happy to take over a lower/fixed energy payment instead of paying more with the utility.
If you go solar with Coronado, we can roll new air conditioners, ductwork, and hot water heaters into the project, allowing you to lower your energy costs. This also allows you to apply federal tax credits to those purchases and enjoy the extremely low interest rates available for solar projects (often .99%, and recently as low as .49%!).
Want to learn more? Reach out to us at https://www.gocoronadosolar.net/roof-check. We’re happy to answer questions and we never sell or share your information.