Estimates put the average monthly electricity bill at over $200 in the Miami area. This is only an estimate as many things can increase and decrease bills, such as how airtight a house is, how old the HVAC system is, and what the landscaping looks like outside. With summer approaching, what can you do to reduce your HVAC system’s energy consumption?
Use Landscaping to Block Some Sun
Lower energy consumption by keeping the rooms within your home from getting too much sun exposure. If you have an open floor plan and the sun exposure is on that room for hours every day, the sun could be warming up the roofing and coming in through windows, which naturally warms the air in the room and attic. This leads to your central AC system working harder to keep the room cool. That drives up your energy bills.
Consider planting some trees for shade. Add awnings on windows and patio doors that see hours of sun exposure. If that’s not possible, light-blocking blinds and curtains are also good ways to keep the sun from warming up areas of the home.
Make Sure Your Home is Airtight
If you can, have a professional assessment of your home for air leaks. If you are losing cool air through older, poorly sealed windows and doors, inadequate insulation, and cracked or damaged ducts, it’s time to address those issues.
How old are your doors, windows, and skylights? If they’re older, you could qualify for tax credits of 30% off the cost, up to $600 for windows and $250 for doors. As long as the doors and windows meet ENERGY STAR Most Efficient ratings, they’ll qualify.
Ducts that leak cold air are wasting energy. They reduce your system’s efficiency. Plus, you could be leaking moist air into your wall space, which can lead to issues with mildew. Make sure you have your ducts inspected regularly. If they need cleaning, restoring, or sealing, don’t put it off.
Attic insulation is also a good way to reduce energy consumption. Insulation creates a barrier that keeps heat from transferring from the roof into the attic beams where they heat the attic and make a warmer home. Poor insulation also allows cool air to escape through older roofing and poorly sealed vent pipes. Through the federal government, there’s a 30% tax credit available for sealing and insulation products, good for up to $1,200. If you hire an FPL-qualified contractor for attic insulation, FPL offers an instant rebate of $220.
To qualify for the FPL attic insulation rebate, your current home insulation cannot be greater than R-8. Use this rebate once every 20 years.
FPL offers a free Home Energy Survey to its customers. An FPL Energy Expert assesses your energy usage, offers tips and energy solutions specific to your needs, and alerts you to the available rebate programs and other incentives that can help you save money while making sure your home and HVAC system are as airtight and efficient as possible.
Install Ceiling Fans Around Your Home
As a central AC system cools each room in your home, the vents are often near the floor. Hot air rises, so it can lead to some pockets of warmer air near the ceiling and cooler air at the floor level. Install ceiling fans in bedrooms, offices, and main living areas to help circulate the cool air. The other benefit to fans is that they blow air directly over your skin, so you’ll feel cooler, even if you have turned the temperature up.
How do you choose the best ceiling fan? Energy.gov recommends investing in a ceiling fan where the blades are between seven to nine feet from the floor and ten inches to a foot from the ceiling. That’s your sweet spot. If you have seven-foot ceilings, a ceiling fan isn’t going to work, as the fan blades could be too close to your head. In that case, use floor-level fans to circulate the air.
Clean and Maintain Your HVAC System
How often do you clean and maintain your HVAC system? You should be changing your air filters every month or two and using a hose to wash dust and grime from coils. Clear leaves, grass, and sticks from the case.
Inside, you want to make sure that you’re vacuuming dust, fur, and hair from the air intakes around your home. Make sure you’re not blocking vents with furniture and curtains. Those are cleaning tasks you can easily do, but some cleaning and maintenance chores are best left to professional HVAC technicians.
Once every year or two, have a professional AC technician clean and inspect your system. You need to have a professional do this to make sure the system is working correctly, properly charged, and not in need of repairs. If your system has leaks, clogged condensate lines, or cracks or holes in the ducts, they need to be repaired and cleaned.
Upgrade Your Equipment When It’s Recommended
In Miami, your home’s central AC system gets a lot of use. It’s going to run year-round, and that shortens its lifespan. It’s not uncommon to need a new AC system every ten years. A system that’s maintained regularly may last more than ten years, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be efficient at that point. While a new system is an investment, it’s one that can save a lot of money and reduce your electricity bills.
If your current AC system has a SEER rating of 14 and is a 3-ton AC, upgrading to a system with a SEER2 rating of 16 reduces your energy bills by 20%. Increase that to a SEER2 rating of 18 and it slashes your bills by 35%. If you go all out and purchase a system with a 22, 24, 26, or 28 SEER2 rating, your savings increase by 65%, 80%, 94%, or 109% respectively. The savings are tremendous the higher you go.
That’s just the energy savings gained by upgrading your central AC system to a more efficient one. If you pair a new AC system with solar panels, you can reduce your electricity consumption even more.
Talk to Miami’s Trusted AC Specialists
Is it time for a new system? Talk to the experts at All Year Cooling about your Southern Florida home’s HVAC system. We’ll give you an honest assessment of whether your AC system is still working efficiently or if there are things you can do to improve it. If it’s honestly time to upgrade to an energy-efficient option, we’ll talk to you about your best options.
All Year Cooling is an FPL-qualified contractor, so we’ll help you get available rebates on air conditioners, heat pumps, and attic insulation that are available with FPL. We’ll also provide you with the necessary paperwork to add to your tax return to get the federal government tax incentives. Reach out to us to arrange a cleaning and inspection appointment and to learn more about energy-saving changes you can use to slash your electricity bills.