Glorious summers, temperate winters and delightful springs and autumns are four major perks of Florida living. The state’s tropical breezes and bright sunshine beg residents to spend time outdoors year-round.
But, thanks to technology, our indoor climates are more efficient and environmentally friendly than ever before. Heed these five tips to help keep your new-home energy costs in check.
Light Up the Smart Way
Start with basics: use long-lived compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs. Choose task lighting — such as a well-aimed desk lamp — rather than the overhead chandelier. Equip indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures with photo cells, timers and motion sensors that trigger lights when needed and keep them off when they’re not. The latter ensures that exterior or security lighting stays dark during the day. It also eliminates you having to remember to turn off the floodlights while dashing out the door to school or work.
Reduce Your Plug Load
Consider how many electronics are plugged into outlets at your new Florida home. Always choose energy-efficient devices and machines and turn them off when not in use. Do the same for computer monitors or put them in sleep mode; screen savers don’t save energy. If your devices have built-in power-saving features, active them. One helpful tip: always unplug power cords with an AC adapter. The AC adapter continues drawing power even if the electronic device it feeds isn’t plugged into it.
Inspect and Clean Your Appliances
More helpful basics: make sure your hot water heater is set at the proper temperature (typically 120 degrees Fahrenheit). Same for your fridge and freezer; follow manufacturer recommendations. Only run your dishwasher when you have a full load of dirty dishes. Overloading it — i.e. the door bulges if you tuck in one more fork — is equally inefficient.
Don’t crank the oven or stove unless you truly need them. Microwave and toaster ovens use less energy. Keeping all your cooking appliances clean also helps them to use less energy.
Washers and dryers can be sneaky energy thieves. Always clean your dryer’s lint filter to ensure good air circulation and wash clothes in cold water with cold-water-friendly detergents. Regularly check the dryer vent to make sure it’s not blocked. If it is, energy inefficiency is the least of your worries — blocked dryer vents can spark fires.
Keep Your Cool
As new homes settle and materials “cure,” check the weather stripping around exterior doors and windows. Weather stripping forms an air-tight seal when doors and windows are closed and also helps keep air conditioning — or heat on a cool day — inside. Also regularly replace the filters on your heating and cool system and have a professional technician perform an annual check-up.
Use Window Coverings
This is the most decorative energy-efficient tip. The shades, blinds or curtains that enhance your privacy and decor also can bring beauty to your power bill. Use solar shades, which mitigate the summer sun and capture its warmth in winter. Closing blinds and curtains also repels heat and eases the burden on your air conditioner. Remember that light-colored window treatments and shades reflect heat away from your house.
Using this five-tip checklist helps ensure a new home stays energy-efficient well beyond its years. Click here for more ICI Homes energy-saving tips.