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Friday, May 24, 2013

It’s Getting Hot, Hot, Hot!

Ramona Madhosingh-Hector   
Urban Sustainability Agent  

Despite our love for Florida, we’re not always happy to endure the long hot summer. Home air conditioning (AC), a modern luxury, accounts for more than 40% of our utility bill and if your system is not working efficiently, you will spend considerably more. To ensure that you are not overpaying to stay cool this summer, use these simple tips to maximize your savings.

  1. Maintenance – AC maintenance is key to protecting your investment and ensuring that you stay cool all summer long. For a fraction of the cost of repairs, an AC professional will check ducts, coils, and overall performance of your AC system. Be sure to use a licensed company when you conduct periodic maintenance on your unit and replace your filters monthly to optimize performance.
  2. Thermostat Setting – The recommended indoor temperature during summer months is 780F. Setting your thermostat higher than 78 actually results in increased cooling costs (8% for every degree). To maximize your savings, use ceiling fans and dress appropriately for the summer months – this will help you to feel cool even if you set the thermostat up 1 or 2 degrees. Remember that ceiling fans cool people not rooms.
    Installing and using a programmable thermostat will help you regulate the temperature settings while you are away at work and when you are asleep. Look for the Energy Star label and ensure that the unit is compatible with your AC system. 
  3. Window treatments – To minimize the work that the AC system must do, shade windows that are facing the sun. You may use window curtains, blinds, or window film to help reduce the cooling load – this means that your AC will work less to keep your house cool.
  4. Control moisture – Warm air enters your home through poorly sealed windows and doors, kitchen and bath vents, and through entry/exit openings. To reduce heat and humidity entering your home, be sure to seal any visible cracks and openings in your windows and doors and use your kitchen and bath fans sparingly.
  5. System Upgrade – There are many factors that go into upgrading the AC system, e.g. unit efficiency, number of occupants in the home, and occupant lifestyle. The SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is an indication of how efficient the AC system could be. Federal regulation mandates a minimum SEER 13 for residential air conditioners – upgrading from a 9 SEER to 13 SEER can reduce your air conditioning costs by over 30%. Be sure to hire a licensed contractor to upgrade your unit and remember that “bigger is not always better” – your contractor can help you choose the appropriate unit for your home.

Following these simple, cost-effective tips during the upcoming hot summer months will help you stay cool, avoid costly repairs, and save money on your utility bills. For much more information about air conditioning in your Florida home, check out this EDIS publication.


Department of Energy
Energy Star
Florida Building Code
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy


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