As home inspectors, we’re always seeing home discrepancies that can cause your electric bill to skyrocket. So, if you want to learn how to reduce the electric bill all year round, stick around. We have a few tips up our sleeve that you’ve probably never heard of.
Living in Florida is living in actual paradise— but at a price.
We know it gets hot in other states, but the Florida heat is relentless. You’ll only get a few breaks here and there throughout the year. This means your AC is on full blast continuously, causing your electric bill (and stress levels) to be on full blast as well.
Whether it’s summer, Florida winter, or spring, there are some small things around your house that can save you some money.
RELATED: SUMMER HOME MAINTENANCE TIPS
How To Reduce the Electric Bill in Your Florida Home
There are typical, simple ways to reduce an electric bill. You probably already know that blackout curtains, unplugging your devices, or turning off your ceiling fans when they’re not in use can make an impact.
But realistically, these small steps will save you— maybe $20 per year?
If you want to learn how to cut your electric bill in half (okay… maybe by a third), then you need to be paying attention to the stuff that eats up the most energy. This means paying attention to your thermostat, filters, and even your windows.
1. Adjust Home Temperatures
The rule of thumb for any homeowner is to keep your thermostat at 78 degrees. Of course, here in Florida, that might seem a little too warm. So, let’s say between 75-78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Did you know that if you have a programmable thermostat, you can automatically set your AC to adjust to this ideal temperature? Adjusting the temperature while you’re away at work is a great way to reduce your electric bill. Duke Energy even confirms, “For every degree the thermostat is set above 78, customers can save up to 10% on their cooling costs.”
And if you have pets, don’t worry— you only need to increase the temperature 3-5 degrees so it should still be comfortable for them.
If you work a 9-5, for example, you can auto-set your programmable AC to climb a few degrees at 9 a.m. To make sure the house cools down by the time you get home, you want to set your thermostat goes back to that 75-78 degree mark at 4 p.m.
Now, keep in mind that instructions vary depending on the type of thermostat you have. If you have a traditional thermostat like a White Rodgers, you can adjust the desired temperature for both systems — Heat and Cooling — by simply using the arrows. Some even allow you to program temperatures for certain days time and specific days of the week. Here’s a tutorial on how to adjust those settings.
If you have a fancy, updated programmable Smart Thermostat like the Honeywell 9000 the setup is pretty simple. Here’s a great video tutorial on how to use it:
Some more advanced thermostats, like the Nest or EcoBee can detect when you’re away or at home, and adjust accordingly. They may even offer energy savings adjustments based on your routine behavior. Pretty cool!
Adjust The Water Heater
Another way to lower your bill is to adjust your water heater. If you have a tank-style water heater, it has to continuously store and reheat water in its tank so that you have the luxury of taking a hot shower within minutes of turning on the showerhead. However, all the work to disperse warm water to your shower, sink, and dishwasher costs money.
By lowering the temperature on your water heater, you’ll use less energy which can save you money. Ideally, you want this temperature set at 120°F, as setting it any lower can cause sanitary and water quality issues.
And if you plan on going on vacation anytime soon, make sure to adjust the temperature on both your AC and the water heater! Just remember, that due to the high-humidity in our state, we do not recommend turning off the AC completely. A lot of people don’t realize that AC’s don’t just cool, they condition the air, which means they also dehumidify it, as well.
2. Replace AC Filters
If you want to know how to reduce the electric bill in a really effective way, replace those AC filters!
The filters in your home are meant to help your HVAC system running smoothly.
Your HVAC, if you didn’t already know, stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. Your filters support the HVAC because they trap debris that is in the air.
If your filter is too congested, then that will reduce airflow and thus, the efficiency of the system. Some of that debris may start slipping onto your HVAC coil, reducing the quality of your AC, heating, etc. And because your HVAC will be working so hard to clear the air (literally), it runs up your electric bill.
How often should you replace your filters to reduce your electric bill? It really depends.
The size of your home, your household, and the type of filter you have all play a role in frequency. For example, if you have pets, you probably need to replace them more often. And standard fiberglass filters need to be changed every 30-days, whereas some pleated filters can last 3-6 months. There are even media filters that can last up to a year without needing to be replaced. We recommend checking the manufacturers instructions to get a better idea of how often they should be changed. Generally, 30-90 days for most common filters is what we see.
3. Pay Attention To Washer & Dryer
Speaking of filters, you are cleaning out your dryer filter after every cycle… right?
Not only does a clean dryer protect you from house fires, but it also makes sure your dryer is working properly. If you’re noticing that your clothes still aren’t completely dry after an hour, it’s probably from dryer filter neglect (or it could mean the dryer vent is clogged).
When you constantly have to turn your machine on to dry the same load, you’re going to notice a spike in your electric bill.
More advanced dryers also have the option to auto-sense when your clothes are drying. Maytag recommends this feature because it saves you the guesswork and it’s energy-efficient.
Another way to recuse your electric bill is the washer. Try washing your garments in cold water. That way, you aren’t using the water heater as often and the energy spent heating and dispersing hot water is saved.
Also, make sure you adjust the load size for every wash so you aren’t using more energy. In fact, we recommend only washing when you have a full load. Running that thing uses up a ton of electricity. The less you have to use it, the better.
RELATED: FLORIDA HOME MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST
4. Lower Your Electric Bill in the Kitchen
The kitchen is a hive full of energy. From the oven to the dishwasher, there are so many ways to cut back on your electric spending in this room alone.
For starters, if you have a grill, try to use that instead of the oven when you can. The oven uses between 2,000 and 5,000 watts, which can run you about $5.85 per month.
That might not seem like a ton of savings, but paired with these other energy-suckers, it all really adds up.
The microwave is another tool you can cut back on using. Instead of using it to thaw your dinner meat, take out the meat a few hours before you’re ready to cook so it can thaw on the counter. We like free stuff!
Your dishwasher is another area where you can save a few bucks. Some towns actually have cheaper energy rates during “off-peak” hours. So consider washing your dishes at night when there’s less demand for energy use. Also, try not to use the heat dry feature too often (or at all).
And did you know that keeping your freezer or refrigerator full, requires less time to keep it cool? Packing frozen veggies, fruits, and meats help insulate the fridge so that it stays cool longer and uses less energy.
The best method on how to reduce the electric bill is to insulate. Insulation regulates your home’s temperature. You might start noticing your home takes a while to cool down or heat up if you have poor insulation.
That extra effort to adjust your home’s temperature means— you guessed it— higher electrical bills.
Thankfully, there actually quite a few places in your home where you can boost your insulation usage:
- Add insulation wrapping around hot water pipes where accessible. So much energy is lost through the pipe wall as it travels to the desired location. Plus, you’ll get a few degrees warmer water at the faucet without spending extra money.
- Behind electrical outlets using electrical outlet sealers. Just make sure you turn off the breaker and verify the outlet is not energized before removing the coverplate!
- Outside your home with insulated paint
Hiring a company to insulate your walls and attic space might also be necessary depending on how good (or bad) your home’s insulation is.
You can use this online tool by The U.S. Department of Energy to see if you have the right amount of insulation based on where you live.
So those are all of our tips on how to reduce the electric bill in your Florida home! As always, if you’re in the market to buy a home, hiring a home inspector can help you pre-determine inconsistencies like poor insulation or a busted water heater. Contact us for a quote!