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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. Hello. I had my condo up for sale since January and just 5 days ago a couple visited, loved it and put an offer — now accepted. Closing has been set for June 6 and it seems that date will stick. The couple are moving in immediately and I’m sure they’ll connect with you soon enough. DO NOT shut off the power unless you have to, but you’ll make things easier for everybody if you just wait for them to confirm their plans and at that point eliminate my name in the account record, which I have had in automatic payment. After I leave I will be living temporarily with a son in Pompano — while I find a little house for myself. Thanks Lily B Bean

    Reply
  2. I live in a mobile home and am leaving for 5 months. I have read and thank you for your tips. I do not have a humidstat on my a/c so what should I do – leave it on 80?

    Reply
  3. Should I have my service cancel to avoid a charge for the 8 or 9 mohths that I’m away if so what will be the charge to reactivate my service
    Thanks Carmel

    Reply
  4. Hi I’m a snowbird and am wondering why my bill is about $8.00 more at this time. Compare to last year. I do have my frig on and the air at 79F. That’s the only electric I have on. I have also put damp rid all over the house too. Has the cost of electric gone up from last year. No one is in my condo. Waiting to hear what you think of the difference in cost.
    Thank you
    Rhonda

    Reply
  5. Can you comment on whether it’s a good idea or bad idea to leave ceiling fans on when our coach home is closed up fir the summer with the air conditioning left on. Thanks.

    Reply
  6. I live on Caraway Drive in Venice, FL and would like to know what caused the power outage last night.
    Thank you,
    Don Phillips

    Reply
  7. Do you recommend snowbirds leave fans on when closing up for summer?

    Reply
  8. Very good info thank you

    Reply
  9. What happens when these energy efficient bulbs explode in my living room?

    bad gases? Flourescent tubes exploded/broke in confined areas really bad gases escaped.

    Reply
  10. Hello
    In our condo we installed a digital honeywell wireless thermostat. The Humidistat was wired in series with the thermostat therefore if the humidity stays below 55% I cannot read the thermostat via the internet.
    Here is my question. What is the best way to use the two devices in conjunction. Leave the humidstat to on and run the AC for two hours in the morning at 72 and then set the other four periods of each day to 88? or set the humidstat to 58% and leave all daily settings on the thermostat to 77.
    Thank you Greg

    Reply

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