About "Ask the Energy Expert"
Brad Goar is the program manager for FPL's Home Energy Survey and Low Income Weatherization programs. With over 140,000 home energy surveys performed annually, FPL's Home Energy Survey is one of the largest utility run energy survey programs in the nation.
Your questions on energy-related topics can be submitted anytime to our Ask the Energy Expert blog. Just click here to submit your question, and if chosen, it will be answered here
Asked on: February 29, 2016 by Yvan L., Delray Beach, FL
I own a condo in Florida and we are snowbirds. I wanted to know, what do you recommend for closing up my home for the summer?
Thank you for your question, Yvan - we hear this one a lot. As you start to make your arrangements before leaving town, here are some recommendations to help you prepare your home and manage your account while away.
- Account management
- Check your Energy Dashboard to monitor your usage while you are away and check for any unusual changes in energy usage, which could indicate an appliance or A/C malfunction.
- Combine FPL E-Mail Bill® and FPL Automatic Bill Pay® for the easiest way to receive and pay your FPL bill while you’re away.
- Cable or satellite boxes: Unplug or turn off to avoid paying for energy you aren’t using.
- Water heater: Turn off the circuit breaker to the water heater.
- Small appliances and electronics: Unplug. For security reasons, you may want to place timers on indoor lamps. If you leave your broadband connected when away, you can use smart plugs to control table lamps.
- Dishwasher: Empty and leave the door open.
- Washing machine: Leave the lid open.
- If you prefer to keep your refrigerator on, set it at its warmest setting.
- If your prefer to keep your refrigerator off, make sure to clean the interior with a solution of 1 tbsp. of baking soda in 1 quart of water, dry thoroughly and leave doors open. Turn off the circuit breaker to the refrigerator. Remove all food from the freezer and refrigerator, and leave the door(s) propped open.
- If you have an automatic ice maker, switch it to the "off" position.
- Set your pool pump to run no more than six hours a day.
- Arrange for someone to check your pool’s chemical levels and water level while you’re away.
- A/C settings and mold prevention*
- Change your A/C filter. If it is washable, then wash it. An accumulation of dirt plus the summer heat and humidity can lead to mildew and mold growth, which can spread through the house.
- For programmable or smart thermostats: Set your A/C to run at 72 degrees for just two hours each morning before sunrise and at 88 degrees for the remainder of the time.
- For non-programmable thermostats: Set your A/C to run at 80 degrees while you are away. If you live in a condo or apartment, set your A/C at 77 degrees.
- Set the controls of your humidistats and/or dehumidifiers to 58 percent RH to maintain acceptable humidity, since some humidistat sensors are inaccurate by as many as 10 percentage points. For more information about using humidistats and mold prevention, refer to this blog post.
- For maximum energy savings: Use portable dehumidifiers instead of air conditioning. Set dehumidifiers at 58 percent by sinks and showers, and use one for every 1,000 square feet. Be sure to place the dehumidifiers so the water runs into the shower or tub drain.
- Open your closet and cabinet doors, just to keep fresh air moving in and out of those areas.
- Hurricane preparedness
- Make arrangements for hurricane shutters to be installed prior to your departure if you will be gone for the duration of hurricane season, which runs from June to November.
- Safety and security
- Make sure all smoke alarms are working and have fresh batteries.
- Turn off the main water valve unless you have an automatic fire-sprinkler system. If you do, turn off the water valves to your washing machine, kitchen and bathroom sinks, dishwasher and toilets.
- Ask someone to check on your property every few weeks for problems that could pop up, such as plumbing leaks or storm damage.
- Make sure all doors and windows are locked.
- Close your drapes and blinds. This will help keep strangers from peeping in to see what you own and check for signs you may be away.
- Stop newspaper/mail deliveries. Stacks of paper outside or a full mailbox may attract unwanted attention.
*These tips are intended as guidelines to help you save energy and prevent mold growth, but your results may vary. Because each situation is unique, FPL cannot guarantee any particular result will be achieved by following these tips.
Your safety is very important to us. If this is a medical emergency, please call 911 immediately or go to your nearest emergency room. For non-emergencies, you can reach us during regular business hours via Facebook private message, or follow and message us on Twitter and one of our representatives will assist you. To report an outage, please call 1-800-4-Outage. Thank you and please stay safe.