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Maintaining an Energy Efficient Home During a Florida Summer

The oppressive heat during a Southwest Florida summer can cause your energy bill to rise almost as high as the mercury in your thermometer. But Best Home Services can help you prepare for the spike in temperatures and maintain an energy efficient home and air conditioner. Among the ways to boost energy efficiency are using window coverings to prevent heat absorption, performing regular maintenance on your cooling system, and utilizing fans and ventilation strategies. Below we will explore several ways to achieve maximum energy efficiency.

Operate Your Cooling Equipment Efficiently

Maintaining an energy efficient air conditioner will significantly increase the efficiency of your home when battling the heat and humidity that comes with each Southwest Florida summer. You should perform regular maintenance on your air conditioner to ensure it is operating at its peak efficiency. Ideally, you should service your air conditioning unit’s filters, coils, and fins every spring and again in the fall. The most important measure to take to ensure an energy efficient air conditioner is to replace or clean its filters. Dirty or clogged filters will obstruct normal airflow and ultimately weaken the evaporator coil’s heat-absorbing ability. A clean air filter can reduce your air conditioner’s energy consumption by up to 15%. Clean filters will slow the collection of dirt on an evaporator coil, but it will still happen over time. Bi-Annual checks and cleanings of the coil will minimize debris near its condenser unit. Finally, an air conditioner’s fins can be bent in such a way as to block airflow through the coil. As a result, you will need to use a “fin comb” to return the fins to their original condition for peak efficiency.

Optimal Thermostat Efficiency

By resetting your thermostat when away from home or asleep, you can significantly improve the energy efficiency of your home while also reducing energy bills. During the summer months, you should set the temperature as high as comfortably possible while you are at home and need cooling. Your cooling bill is directly correlated to the difference between inside and outside temperatures, with a smaller difference equating to a lower bill. For that reason, we recommend adjusting your thermostat to operate at a temperature of 7°-10° warmer when you are away. However, upon your return, do not set the thermostat to a cooler-than-normal setting. It will not cool your home faster and could ultimately decrease efficiency. Another way to promote optimal thermostat efficiency is by placing lamps and televisions away from it. Your thermostat can sense the heat emitted by external devices. It is likely to run your air conditioner longer than necessary as a result.

Opening Your Home’s Windows to Improve Energy Efficiency

Opening your home’s windows will improve energy efficiency by relieving some of the strain on your air conditioning unit. The Southwest Florida breeze can be used as natural ventilation as it enters and exits open windows in your home. Cooler air is forced into the windows on the side of your home facing the wind, and a natural vacuum effect will serve to pull air out of the windows facing downwind. Another means of cooling your home through the use of open windows is the chimney effect. This effect happens when cool air enters the house on the lower level, absorbs the room’s heat, and leaves through upstairs windows. This strategy works best for homes with open-air designs.

Using Window Attachments to Increase Efficiency

Roughly 76% of sunlight shone on standard double-pane windows becomes heat in your home. However, you can combat this by using window coverings and attachments. You can foster energy efficient windows by utilizing interior or exterior window treatments. Interior window treatments include insulated cellular shades, window quilts, roller shades, blinds, curtains, and window films. The most efficient variety of interior window treatments are insulated cellular shades, which can reduce solar heat by up to 80% as a result of their insulated cross-sections diminishing heat conduction. Exterior window treatments consist of shutters and shades, awnings, and solar window screens. Shutters and shades are considered the most effective exterior way to reduce solar heat gain. However, awnings also serve the role well, with the ability to reduce solar heat gain by up to 77% on west-facing windows.

Use Fans to Boost Energy Efficiency

Ceiling fans can effectively create a wind chill effect by circulating the air in your home. Use of a ceiling fan will allow you to raise your thermostat setting by 4° without a noticeable change in comfort level. For peak energy efficiency, remember to turn ceiling fans off when you leave the room. The wind chill effect cools people, not areas. Window fans are also useful tools for cooling your home without using much energy. Window fans are most effective when facing downwind because they strengthen the vacuum effect that draws hot air from your home. Additionally, you can bolster the chimney effect in your multi-level house by facing upstairs window fans outward and opening the windows on your lower level. If you choose to have your window fan facing inward, place it in a window near a cool, shaded outdoor area.

Effective Ventilation Can Enhance Energy Efficiency

Using the bathroom ventilation fan when you shower or take a bath will help remove heat and humidity from your home. Ventilating your kitchen and laundry rooms will have the same effect. However, make sure your fans’ vents carry air to the outside rather than the attic. The goal is to remove heat from your home rather than relocate it.

Avoid Heating Your Home with Appliances

On blistering hot Southwest Florida summer days, avoid using your oven when possible. Prepare your meal on the stove, use your outside grill, or resort to using a microwave for cooking. An oven will heat your kitchen and force your cooling system to work harder to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. Try to refrain from using other major appliances as well. If you need to do laundry or wash dishes, wash only full loads. When possible, air dry your dishes and clothing. Also, try not to use devices that will add heat to your home. Examples of heat-generating devices include computers, curling irons, hair dryers, and even some stereos and televisions.

Be Strategic About Lighting Your Home

Use energy-efficient lighting in your home to decrease heat and save money. During daytime hours, you can strategically utilize windows and skylights instead of artificial lighting to keep your home bright. However, avoid direct sunlight, which would admit unwanted heat. Allowing daylight into your south-facing and north-facing windows will produce the desired effect of lighting your home with minimal summer heat gain. Once the sun goes down, use cooler, efficient lighting instead of traditional incandescent bulbs. Up to 90% of the energy used for incandescent lighting turns into heat. To maintain energy efficiency, use halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes to illuminate your home. Each is more energy efficient than the traditional lighting methods and will reduce unwanted heat.

Seal Your Home to Prevent Warm Air from Entering

Warm air can enter your home through cracks and openings near doors and window frames, among other areas. Improve the energy efficiency of your house by preventing such air leakage. Before taking measures to prevent air leakage, you must determine the source of the leaks and evaluate your necessary ventilation needs for ideal indoor air quality. After your assessment, you may apply air-sealing techniques such as caulking and weatherstripping, which are both simple and effective. It is typical to use caulk for cracks or openings between stationary components of your house, like window frames. Weatherstripping is ideal for sealing movable elements, including doors and operable windows.

Reduce Hot Water Use to Improve Energy Efficiency

Hot water use is typically the second-largest energy expense in your home, accounting for roughly 18% of your utility bill, on average. Several methods can be used to lower your costs. Begin by reducing the temperature of your water heater to 120°, generally the warm setting. Furthermore, fix any leaks, install energy-efficient dishwashers and clothes washing machines, and install low-flow fixtures. Additionally, consider taking a short shower instead of a bath. This behavioral change will improve the energy efficiency of your home and potentially reduce some unwanted heat gain.

Enjoy A Worry-Free Summer in Your Energy-Efficient Home

An energy-efficient home will keep you cool and calm during the long Southwest Florida summers. By regularly maintaining your air conditioner, allowing your windows and fans to circulate air and ventilate your home, and taking actions to eliminate unnecessary heat gain, you will remain comfortable and save money despite the sweltering heat.

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