The Meadows at Martin Downs Homeowners Association, Inc.
2550 Waterfall Blvd., Palm City, FL 34990
Improving Your Home's Energy Efficiency
Contributed by Walter Sokolowski
There are a number of ways in which homeowners can improve the comfort and energy efficiency of their residences. Every suggestion herein involves an initial expense, but ultimately it will result in a pay back that will far exceed the initial cost. Upgrading your electrical equipment should reduce your monthly FPL bill, if only by cutting down production of needless heat which adds to your AC load.
Unless you have experience working with electricity, do not attempt to do most of the revisions described on this page. Instead, make a list of the changes you wish to make and contact several licensed electricians or AC contractors to obtain price quotations for those upgrades.
Anywhere that you have incandescent lights installed, electronic dimmers will allow you to alter the level of illumination. If that is anything less than maximum, dimmers will reduce the power consumed, as well as the heat produced. With less heat generated, the AC will not work as hard, thereby reducing the power consumed. Also, it is generally possible to reduce the wattage of all bulbs used for effect lighting, i.e., hallways, outdoors, etc., thereby minimizing power consumption.
Although the initial cost can be intimidating, their high efficiency warrants consideration. Fluorescent lights are 5 times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and have up to 10 times the life span of incandescent bulbs. As an example, a 150-watt incandescent bulb could be replaced with a 30-watt fluorescent lamp, which provides the equivalent light. Not only are you saving 120 watts of electricity, that same amount of power is radiated as heat, with the bulb reaching up to 300* F. This will either increase room temperature, or make the AC work harder. Fluorescent lights come in a variety of sizes and shapes, including reflector floodlights, which can replace the bulbs in the ceiling pot fixtures. Most householders should be able to make these changes without help. Keep in mind, fluorescent lights cannot be used with dimmers.
Replacing an existing mechanical thermostat with an electronic unit will offer the homeowner an opportunity to save electricity and improve comfort. Electronic thermostats have the capability of programming the temperature of your home by utilizing a built - in timer function. In addition, electronic thermostats are much more responsive to temperature change and will maintain home temperature within plus or minus 1 degree rather than plus or minus 2-3 degrees that is common with builder installed bi-metal thermostats. As a bonus, they also provide a compressor delay that protects the AC compressor from overload in case of a power outage.
Mechanical or electronic timers will establish the operating duration of lights and exhaust fans. In the bathroom, an exhaust fan timer will limit fan operation to a minimum, reducing the introduction of hot outside air into the home. Timers on exterior lights will permit their programmed operation at any selected time.
FPL Energy Conservation Programs
FPL has developed a number of programs that provide incentive grants for homeowners to upgrade their homes to be more energy efficient. If you wish to take advantage of one or more of these incentive programs, it is essential that you contact FPL first and make an appointment with one of their representatives. The representative will subsequently survey your home and quote you the value of the FPL rebate, plus provide you with a list of qualified contractors who can do the work.
By participating in this program, you not only save money on the various projects, the improvements will result in reduced power consumption for the duration of your ownership of the home. The ultimate savings will far exceed the original cost of the upgrade. The following FPL programs are currently available:
Duct System Test
As a result of many years of experience, FPL has determined that 90% of all customers' AC duct systems they tested require upgrading. With leaking ducts both AC and heating functions are impacted, thereby wasting energy year-round.
Load Management Program
Permanent residents can save a hundred dollars or more (each year) if they activate this program. It entails the connection of a device to your power control panel that may ( for a short interval ) disconnect the power from the AC, water heater and pool pump, to help reduce peak load demand on the FPL power grid. The homeowner will generally not notice the slight interruption of power to these units.
Replacement Of AC & Heating System
If your present AC & Heating System requires replacement, contact FPL prior to having the work done. By upgrading your system to a higher efficiency unit, you might benefit from an FPL rebate.
Ceiling / Roof Insulation
Upgrading the present R11 level of most attic insulation to the far superior R30 standard can significantly reduce both heating and AC operating costs.
By choosing one of several options, such as window tint, upgraded windows etc., you can reduce the transfer of solar heat and contents fading UV light into your home. This upgrade will both decrease the AC load, as well as protect home furnishings. Check with FPL to determine the option that suits your needs.
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Last updated: 03/06/2012