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Craig Muccio

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.

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The best A/C settings for seasonal customers

By Craig Muccio

Asked on: February 26, 2015 by Paul from Sarasota

I leave Florida in May every year and return the following January. What should I set my thermostat on for the summer? Should I unplug TVs, refrigerator, microwave, oven, etc.? I am also concerned about mildew.

Thanks for your question, Paul. Here are some tips to help seasonal customers – like you – maximize savings, and prevent mold and other potential issues while you’re away.

If you have a manual thermostat
FPL recommends setting your air conditioning system to 80 degrees for detached homes and townhouses and 77 degrees for condos and apartments. These measures control the relative humidity (RH) in your vacant home by providing dehumidification to help prevent mold growth.

If you have a programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat is a more energy-efficient and effective option. FPL recommends programming thermostats at 72 degrees for just two hours each morning before sunrise and at 88 degrees the rest of the time. This will help prevent mold by removing moisture from the air during the cooler hours, when relative humidity (RH) is highest and your A/C runs most efficiently.

Energy efficiency tips

  • Always set the A/C fan switch to the “auto” mode.
  • Ceiling fans are not necessary since your A/C already circulates the air.

Mold prevention
The most energy-efficient option to help prevent mold from developing in vacant homes is to use stand-alone dehumidifiers instead of the air conditioner.

  • Use one dehumidifier for every 1,000 square feet of floor area.
  • Set the controls to 58 percent RH, and locate them by the kitchen sink or bathroom shower so water from the drainage tube can go down the drain.
  • Keep the doors to each room open to help the dry air mix with other air throughout the house. A floor fan set on low speed can help circulate dehumidified air to other rooms.
  • You can add timers to the dehumidifiers and fans to limit their operation to 9 pm until noon each day.

Other ways to save while you are away

  1. Save more by turning off the circuit breakers to the water heater and refrigerator. Make sure the refrigerator is clean and you have a way to keep the door open while you are gone.
  2. Unplug electronics to save money and protect them from lightning strikes during the rainy season. Remember, if it feels warm to the touch when it is plugged in, then it is consuming energy -- even when you are not using it. 
  3. If you have cable or a satellite for your TV: When the TV is off, put your hand on the box that tunes the channels. If you feel any heat, keep it unplugged until you need it again when you return.

 We have more tips for seasonal customers – visit FPL.com

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