Ask the Expert: Heat your home but not your energy bill
Does it cost more to heat our home in the winter than cooling it in the summer? What is the best temperature to heat our home?
Asked by: Vivian S., Port Saint Lucie, FL
Have your own question? Ask The Expert ›
As we head into the cooler months and have to switch from having the air conditioner on all day to turning on the heat, there are some things to consider.
- The heating systems in most Florida homes are not energy-efficient and can cost a lot to operate. In fact, it can take two to three times more energy to heat a home than to cool it, which can equate to a higher bill.
- The most efficient way to heat your home is with an electric heat pump. But, due to Florida’s weather, most homes are not built with heat pumps, so they rely on the heating element in the air conditioner for heating.
- The best way to stay warm and still save on your energy bill is to set your thermostat at 68 degrees or lower with the fan switch on “auto.” Then when you leave the house, turn off the heat entirely.
Here are just a few tips that you might find useful while your air conditioning and heating system transition to cooler months.
- Set your thermostat as low as comfortable in the winter and lower the temperature when you’re sleeping or away from home. For each degree you decrease the temperature from the recommended setting (68 degrees), your bill can decrease up to 5%.
- Replace filters on furnaces once a month or as recommended.
- Inspect for duct leaks– Look for rapid dust buildup around vents in your home and remove dirt and buildup. If the ducting system is leaking air, it can cause significant energy losses, causing energy bills to increase. If you suspect your duct system may have leaks, you should contact an A/C contractor to check your duct system.
- Make your ceiling fan heat-friendly, set it to a low speed, spinning clockwise. This allows warm air stuck near the ceiling to ventilate throughout the room, reducing the need to turn up the heat on the thermostat. By taking this simple step, you can save as much as 15 percent on your annual heating costs. But, when leaving the room, make sure to turn the fan off.
- Clean registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
- Weatherize your home. The Department of Energy confirms that you can save 30% off heating costs by simply caulking, sealing and weather-stripping around all windows, outside doors or where plumbing, ductwork and electrical wiring penetrate exterior walls, floors or ceilings.
- Replace worn-out parts on your unit. If your furnace or outdoor condenser unit is more than 5 years old, now is the time to have your entire unit inspected by an HVAC pro.
- Remove yard debris around your unit
- Use exhaust fans less often. Keep the heat generated from activities such as cooking and taking a shower circulating throughout your home by turning off kitchen and bath exhaust fans, or at least using them for less than five minutes at a time.
Other inexpensive ways to heat your home during the cooler months:
- Roll out a rug if you live in a home with wood, tile or concrete flooring. Not only do rugs give your home a cozy appearance, they also help to retain heat, preventing it from leaking through flooring and foundation.
- Keep the drapes and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. Use insulated or heavy curtains on windows that face north. Keep curtains and shades closed at night or on cloudy days. This especially helpful with drafty windows.
- Sensibly use portable space heaters to generate heat. The cost of creating heat using portable space heaters is generally higher than the cost of using your home’s heating system. However, the reality is that it can be significantly less expensive to heat small spaces with a portable space heater, than by turning on the heat for the whole home. When using portable space heaters it is most sensible to consider heating you, and not necessarily the room.
- If you have a fireplace, use your fireplace instead of a traditional heating system. A fireplace with proper use and maintenance can help save you money on winter energy bills, and provide a warm, cozy ambiance to your home.
- Never overlook the option of simply wearing warmer clothes or more layers when at home, which is not so much a way of home heating, but sidestepping the need to heat at all.
In essence, the best advice is to ensure firstly that you do not lose any heat unnecessarily, and the second piece of advice is to make sure that any heat that you do generate is both energy efficient and targeted at heating only what is necessary to heat. For more ways to keep your home warm and your bills low this winter visit www.FPL.com/wintertips .