It’s easy to blame rising energy costs on inflation or the Florida heat and humidity. But many of us fail to realize that our bad habits inside the home may be contributing to an increase in utility bills, too.
Explore 10 common bad habits to break around your home and easy ways to start building energy-efficient ones instead.
#1: Neglecting HVAC maintenance
It’s tempting to think the air conditioning (AC) has to run all day to combat the warm outdoor air, especially in the summertime across Tampa Bay. But if your HVAC constantly runs or cycles on and off, there may be something wrong.
That’s why bi-annual HVAC system maintenance is so important: your AC technicians will inspect your system, fill your fluids and ensure everything is working properly to cool or heat your home. If something is wrong, it’s better to catch it early than continue undetected and cause further damages to your heating and cooling system.
As summer comes to a close and fall approaches, there’s no better time to have your HVAC system inspected by our trusted professionals at Air Care. Contact us today to schedule an AC maintenance appointment.
#2: Forgetting to change air filters
When life is busy, it’s easy to neglect changing the air filter in your home. But your HVAC system works best when it’s clean and well-maintained—and the air filter’s job is to block dust and debris. This reduces strain on your system, ultimately helping your AC run better and save energy.
Set a reminder to check your air filter at least every 30 days and change it every one to three months, depending on the cleanliness of the filter and the size of your home.
Read our recent blog post for tips on how to check and replace your air filter in your Clearwater home.
#3: Forgetting to schedule your programmable thermostat
According to Duke Energy, about 50% of the energy used in your home is from heating and cooling. This is especially true for residents who leave their thermostat set to the same temperature all day—even when they’re away from home.
A great way to prevent rising costs to your energy bill is to invest in a programmable thermostat, which gives you the ability to set a schedule for when your AC runs and adjust the temperature while you’re home or away.
For example, you can set your thermostat to a higher temperature when you’re at the office or on vacation, and then set it to a cooler temperature when you’re ready to return home. That way, you are cool and comfortable inside without compromising costs.
#4: Setting your thermostat too cool or too warm
You’re more likely to set your home temperature lower in the summer to combat the outside heat. But setting the thermostat too low leads to a spike in energy bills.
Instead, set your thermostat to the highest comfortable temperature setting in the summer and to the lowest comfortable setting in the winter. You can save as much as 10% each year by programming your thermostat to 7-10 degrees higher than you normally would in warm months, and likewise 7-10 degrees cooler in the cold months for at least eight hours a day.
#5: Not sealing air leaks
Did you know that 10-20% of heating and cooling costs may be escaping through air leaks in your home? Sometimes, it’s from a drafty window or door, and other times, it’s from smaller cracks or gaps around your vents, baseboards, and outlets.
When you’re trying to detect gaps or leaks, be on the lookout for:
- Daylight around your window or door frames
- Gaps around interior attic doors, baseboards, electrical outlets, switch plates, attic hatches, vents and fans
- Cracks in the exterior of your home where two building materials meet, like corners, siding, chimneys or bricks
Whatever the culprit, caulking, sealing, and weatherstripping these leaks is one of the easiest energy-saving habits you can make each year.
- Complete a Duke Energy Florida Home Energy Check for a free home energy assessment. Most Pinellas County residents qualify for a complimentary energy supply kit, which includes weatherstripping samples for your home.
- Visit your local home improvement store to buy caulk or weatherstripping: Home Depot in Clearwater and Lowe’s Home Improvement in Clearwater.
- Check already sealed areas. Just because you sealed it once doesn’t mean you don’t need to seal it again.
Replacing your older windows and doors is the most expensive investment you can make, but the most energy-efficient one. Just be sure to search for a good window and door company online and read the reviews before engaging a contractor.
#6: Doing laundry at the hottest part of the day
If you have an indoor laundry room, running your washer and dryer when it’s hot outside can lead to higher energy costs. That’s because your HVAC system has to work harder to cool your home and remove the heat caused by your appliances.
Try to do your laundry earlier in the day or later in the evenings, especially in the hottest months of the year. Then in the winter, use your washer and dryer in the evenings, which can actually help heat your home.
About 90% of the energy used by the washing machine goes toward heating the water. Instead, try washing your clothes in cold water, which helps conserve energy and protects them from fading or shrinking, too. You should also wait until laundry is full, which can save on water usage.
#7: Forgetting to turn off lights
It’s obvious that you will use less electricity by turning off your lights when you’re not home. But you’d be surprised by how many residents leave their lights on in rooms they aren’t using.
According to Energy.gov, turning off your lights depends on the following:
- Turn off LED, halogen, and incandescent bulbs anytime when not in use—it won’t shorten their life.
- Only turn off CFLs and fluorescent tube lights when you’re leaving the room for more than five minutes—otherwise, turning them on and off a lot may shorten the bulb life.
To save on electrical lighting costs, consider changing all of your bulbs to LED smart bulbs. You may pay the same amount to light an LED light 24 hours a day as you would to light an incandescent bulb for just four hours. You can also schedule smart bulbs to turn on and off at a set time, even when you’re away from your home.
#8: Running ceiling fans in empty rooms
Similar to lighting use, running your ceilings fans when you’re not in the room is a common habit to break.
Contrary to popular belief, fans do not cool your home—they just help move air around your rooms, circulating air that’s already cooled or warmed by your HVAC system.
When your AC is running, the combination of a fan and indoor conditioned air can help temperatures feel up to four degrees cooler. But if no one is in the room, turn the fan off to conserve energy.
#9: Standing in front of the fridge
According to ENERGY STAR, we open our refrigerators an average of 33 times a day. Whether you’re looking for something to snack on or deciding what to cook, try limiting your time opening your fridge throughout the day to maintain a cold temperature.
Another way to reduce costs is to keep your refrigerator and freezer full, which helps maintain a steady temperature inside. Duke Energy recommends setting your refrigerator between 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and your freezer to 4 to 5 degrees if it is part of a fridge/freezer unit. (For a separate freezer, use a setting of 0.)
If you’re using an old fridge, it may be time to upgrade to a new one—which could qualify for the Florida ENERGY STAR® Sales Tax Exemption Period through June 30, 2023.
#10: Leaving appliances plugged in
We tend to leave unused electronics plugged in throughout the house: laptops and monitors in our home office; toaster ovens and coffee machines in the kitchen; phone charger next to our beds. This is especially true now that many of us work from home more often in this post-pandemic world.
Even though these items use small amounts of energy—also known as “standby power”—it can add up in the long run. So make a mental note to unplug unused devices and conserve costs in your home.
Trust Our Clearwater AC Professionals
As a local AC company for more than 30 years, Air Care serves Pinellas, western Hillsborough and southern Pasco county houses, townhomes, condos, apartments, and small businesses. We pride ourselves in providing top service to our AC customers—resulting in countless customer reviews, high ratings and a Rheem Pro Partner status.
If you need to replace, repair or maintain your HVAC system, our team at Air Care is here to help. We’re also here to answer any questions you have about saving money on cooling and heating costs.
“When I call Air Care for AC repairs, I am confident that they will always deliver the best repairs on my air conditioner. I have used them for years and have never been disappointed. When the cooling element in my air conditioner broke and I called them, I was not disappointed. Good job as always.” – Barbara S. of FL
Call Air Care at 727-449-2699 to feel cool and comfortable inside your home.