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Top tips for snowbirds

Top tips for snowbirds

by | Feb 29, 2016 | 128 comments

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?

Asked by: Yvan L., Delray Beach, FL

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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.

  1. 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.
  1. Appliances
  • 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.
  • Refrigerators:
    • 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.
  • Pool:
    • 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.
  1. 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 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

About The Author

Brad Goar

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.

128 Comments

  1. Hi Brad, just bought a condo in Naples, and as a snowbird we leave it empty during the summer. Prior to leaving in April, we have renovated the condo, nEW ac 14 CEER and installed a tankless WH, removed all carpets installed ceramic, new appliances and a smart meter attached to the AC. How can I promote these upgrades to FLP for discount energy savings, as it appears that I have the same consumption as the previous owner.
    Thanks
    Phil

    Reply
  2. great information. I’ve been told to leave my slatted blinds partially opened and that the light will prevent mold and mildew. What do you say??

    Reply
    • My sense is that it depends more on the temperature and humidity than on letting light in. I have always kept my blinds closed (and have even covered windows that have only opaque curtains in order to keep it cooler and prevent my AC from working harder), set my A/C at 78 and put Damp Rid hangers in my closets (with the doors open). I put a Damp-Rid container in my washer and dryer as well as my car, as these are in the garage, and not climate controlled. So far, no problems!

      Meanwhile, you don’t want people peeking in your house while you’re gone to see what they might like to take….

      Reply
    • For those of you that are evacuating from the coast, I just heard a great tip. It’s called the one cup tip. You put a cup of water in your freezer. Freeze it solid, then put a quarter on top of it and leave it in your freezer. That way, when you come back after you’ve been evacuated, you can tell if your food went completely bad and just refroze, or if it stayed frozen while you were gone.
      If the quarter has fallen to the bottom of the cup, that means all the food defrosted and you should throw it out. But if the quarter is either on the top or in the middle of the cup, your food may still be ok. It would be a great idea to leave this in your freezer all the time. Then, if you lose power for any reason, you will have this tip to fall back on.

      If you don’t feel good about your food, just throw it out. The main thing is for all to be safe.

      Reply
  3. My bill shows an increase of billing cost from last year in the amount of….better than $10.00 dollars. Is this due to billing costs?

    Reply
  4. We recently had a hot water line leak which has been repaired. This leak created a high water usage as well as a high electric usage – is it possible to have our bill adjusted – We have replaced the hot water heater as well as repaired the leak.

    Reply
  5. Hi
    A neighbor suggested that I sign up for monthly surge protection, whereby you apparently install equipment to protect appliances should there be a surge.
    How do I go about signing up for this plan.
    Thanks for your help
    Denise

    Reply
  6. My wife and I just upgraded out AC/Heat Pump to a new 18 SEER, 2 stage fan. Where do I find the forms to get the $150 rebate?

    Thanks,

    Alan

    Reply
  7. Our ac-heat pump is in need of replacing , what should we look for and do you recommend any local contractors

    Reply
  8. I heard that the new LED light bulbs are dangerous to your health is this true ?

    Reply
  9. Can I change met theromstat to help energy usage. It could be 35 years old.

    Reply
  10. We run a small manufacturing plant in Tamarac. Are there any programs or discounts for small businesses that we can take advantage of, like LED lights?

    Reply

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