About "Ask the Energy Expert"
Craig Muccio runs FPL's Conservation Research & Development Program and crunches the numbers to figure out how you can save by managing your energy use.
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
We are new to the area and new to central A/C. In December, we had some cold days and turned the heat on. The increase in our bill was substantial. Does heating use that much more energy than the A/C?
Hi Anne, welcome to Florida! Yes, the typical air conditioner in most Florida homes is more efficient when it comes to cooling, compared to heating. In fact, it can cost two to three times more to heat vs. cool your home. Here’s why:
About 85 percent of homes have a straight cool air conditioner with electric resistance heating elements, also known as “heat strips.” Those elements work very much like a hair dryer by moving air over hot coils. Most homes have a ten kilowatt heat strip, which costs a typical FPL customer about $1 each time the heater runs for a full hour.
Heating alternative – heat pump systems
If you use the heater frequently, you might want to consider a heat pump air conditioning system as an alternative the next time you need to replace your A/C. These systems heat more efficiently and can help you save money if you live in a colder part of the state, or if you run the heat often in the winter. In fact, those who use heat frequently could save up to $75 per year heating with a heat pump system compared to a standard A/C system.
Saving money when it gets cold
We recommend you consider your location and temperature preferences when deciding how to heat your home.
- If you live in a cooler climate or you like to keep your house warm by turning on the heat in your air conditioner when it gets cool outside, you may want to consider a heat pump.
- If you live in a warmer climate and rarely use the heat, you will likely want to stick with a conventional A/C unit with strip heating. Just remember that heating can cost two to three times more than cooling.
So, the next time it gets cold, you may want to hold off on turning the heat on right away until you truly need to warm up your home to be comfortable.
To find more ways to save, take the Online Home Energy Survey for more tips and recommendations.
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