It’s nearly impossible to keep your electric bills down when cooling your Florida home over the summer. But even as we approach the fall season, temperatures tend to take longer to drop across Clearwater and the Tampa Bay area—and your air conditioning (AC) system continues to work hard to keep your home cool.
The good news? There are several ways to cut costs on cooling your home without breaking your budget. Read how these small home improvements can make a big difference on your utility bills, indoor temperatures and overall comfort.
Invest in a modern thermostat.
With Florida’s unpredictable weather, it’s important to have a reliable thermostat that regulates your home temperature, comfort level and energy costs while home or away.
At Air Care, Honeywell thermostats are our top choice for both homes and businesses. They come in a wide variety of models, with options for both wi-fi smart home connectivity and remote control, which allows you to regulate your AC system around the clock and save on energy bills.
Some customers believe that setting their thermostat to a lower setting during the warmer months equals a cooler home, but it often leads to your AC system running longer than it should. Instead, we recommend setting your thermostat to 78 degrees during the day and one to two degrees higher when you’re away. According to Duke Energy Florida, each degree you raise your thermostat can help you save up to 5% in cooling costs.
Contact Air Care today to inquiry about Honeywell thermostats.
Cover your windows.
When it’s hot, about 76% of sunlight on windows enters your home in the form of heat, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).
One of the easiest ways to keep your home cool is to invest in new, UV-coated windows. The next best thing is to purchase window treatments—like blinds, shades and curtains—and close them during the warmest parts of the day. If you want cool indoor temperatures, a “blackout” option is your best bet, and there are plenty of products on the market to choose from. Other alternatives include solar screens or tinted window films that intercept sunlight and reflect heat before it enters your home.
Interested in investing? Browse window treatments, solar screens and window films on home improvement websites, like Home Depot and Lowe’s, for reliable and cost-effective options.
Use ceiling fans.
Fans help move air throughout your home. When your AC is running, the combination of a fan and indoor conditioned air can help temperatures feel up to four degrees cooler.
If you live in a one-story house or apartment, the DOE advises you to close windows near the fan and open windows in rooms far from the fan, preferably on your home’s windward side. However, if you live in a two-story home, consider running ceiling fans on your home’s upper level and opening the windows on the lower level instead.
Plant shady trees or shrubs.
It’s important to shade your walls, windows and roof throughout the year. According to the Florida Public Service Commission, shade trees and leafy shrubs create shade and reduce cooling costs by up to 30%.
When the sun rises each morning across the Tampa Bay area, there’s not as much heat accumulating inside or outside your home. However, the west and southwest directions receive the most direct sunlight in the early to late afternoons. Wilcox Nursery & Landscape in Largo recommends planting deciduous trees and plants on the south and west sides of your home, which can provide shade for your home and AC unit and make it run more efficiently.
Read more tips from Wilcox and consider planting shaded trees or shrubs in your yard this fall. Remember, there’s never a bad time to plant or landscape in Florida because of the heat and humidity.
Seal window and door leaks.
Did you know that 10-20% of the cooled air inside your home could be escaping through leaks in your windows and doors?
An easy way to locate leaks is to run your hand over the openings and cracks of your windows and doors while shut. If you feel warm air seeping in or cooled air escaping out, it’s time to take action. Try caulking spaces, adding weather stripping, thresholds or sweeps, or as a last resort, replacing your doors and windows with energy-efficient solutions.
Another option is to take the Duke Energy home assessment today, which helps identify and recommend improvements to your Florida home.
Repair your ductwork.
In a typical house, about 20% of the air that moves through your air duct system can be lost due to leaks, holes and poorly connected ducts.
Leaks in your ductwork can make the humidity in your home much worse, because it pulls back in warm, moist air whenever the AC runs. When this happens, it takes longer for the system to re-cool and compensate.
If you suspect this may be the issue, call your AC professionals at Air Care to ensure cool air isn’t escaping through leaky ducts. We are an approved AC partner in the Duke Energy Duct Test & Repair Program, and our technicians are specially trained on the duct repair process.
Check your insulation.
Attic insulation is one of the easiest ways to make your home more energy efficient, and according to Duke Energy, improving your insulation can save up to $130 a year.
Over time, insulation tends to settle, becoming thinner and less effective. Sometimes you need more insulation, while other times you need a complete replacement. No matter what type of insulation you currently have, a quick way to determine if you need more is to look across the span of your attic. If your insulation is just level with or below your floor joists (you can easily see your joists), you should add more.
Contact Air Care today to perform an in-home energy audit, or use the online home energy check with Pinellas County utility provider, Duke Energy, to learn more about energy enhancements.
Limit hot appliances…especially when it’s hot outside.
Many home appliances—like stoves, ovens, washing machines and dryers—create excess heat inside your home. Even hot showers, baths and light bulbs can make your house feel hotter than it should, especially when in use during the day.
To reduce indoor temperatures and energy costs, consider running these appliances in the evening when it’s cooler or investing in energy-efficient alternatives to save big in the long run.
Read more Duke Energy tips on money-saving options for our hot Florida weather.
Service your HVAC system.
The best way to ensure your HVAC system cools your home from the Florida heat is to schedule preventative AC maintenance twice a year. Since your system works the hardest over the summer and winter months, fall and spring are the ideal times to schedule an AC tune-up.
During each AC maintenance call, our certified technicians will perform the following work on your HVAC system:
- Check and clean burners
- Inspect filters (clean or replace if needed)
- Check carbon monoxide levels
- Check contactors and relays for wear
- Adjust refrigerant levels
- Inspect pressure and temperature
- Inspect safety devices and controls
- Test emergency shut-offs
- Inspect ductwork
- Flush and clean drain line and trap
- Inspect heat exchanger for leaks and cracks
- Tighten electrical connections
Every year your AC unit goes without a check, it loses on average 5% of its operating power, which can cost you comfort and money. Contact Air Care today to schedule HVAC system maintenance.
Consider replacing your AC.
If your AC system is older than 10 years old, it likely won’t have the same life span as one that’s designed and developed today. That’s because as AC technology has advanced over the years, so has the latest HVAC equipment.
If you suspect you may need a new air handler or heat pump, contact our team at Air Care first. It’s possible a system tune-up, regular maintenance or a parts replacement may fix your issue. In other cases, a new AC system installation may be the best, cost-effective option for cooling your home.
Contact us today to set up an appointment and receive a free, in-home written installation estimate. We proudly recommend Rheem AC systems as our top pick—read why we recommend Rheem here.
Get advice from a top AC company in the Tampa Bay area.
When you engage Air Care for your heating and air conditioning services, you’ll receive some of the best quality HVAC experience in the industry.
“Living in Clearwater, Air Care is literally just down the road from me and I have to say, as always, good job on the AC repairs. They have always done good work on the repairs that I have called them for, and they are my favorite AC repair contractors.” — Helen in Clearwater, Florida
Contact Air Care today for advice on cooling your home and keeping your AC running at its best this fall. We proudly service homeowners throughout Pinellas County, southern Pasco County and western Hillsborough County areas.
Bankrate.com: Save on air conditioning costs
Florida Public Service Commission: 105 Causes of High Utility Bills
Duke Energy: Manage your thermostat this summer
Duke Energy: 10 ways to save energy during hot weather
Wilcox Nursery: Plant shade trees to cool your home