Based on our hot Florida temperatures, it may be hard to believe, but September 22nd marks the official start of fall. It won’t be long before temperatures begin to drop a little and offer all of us Floridians a break from sweating! This is the time of year that we start looking forward to trading in our flip flops for those cute boots or jackets we only get to wear a couple of times a year. We also look forward to the days ahead when our air conditioners won’t be running 24/7, increasing our energy bills. Turning your A/C down (or off) when the weather cools is a no-brainer and definitely saves energy and keeps money in your pocket. However, there are other things that homeowners or tenants can do to save energy that might not be as obvious. Here are some of the easiest hacks to try in your home for the upcoming season.
Use a Humidifier
The moisture level in your home plays a significant role in how warm or cold the air temperature feels. This is why our Florida climate also feels much warmer than other areas where the thermostat reads the same number. Our humidity makes the weather feel warmer. The same is true during cooler months within your home. When the heater is running all day long, it can dry out the air, which ultimately makes occupants feel colder. Running a small humidifier to increase the humidity level inside your home works wonders to supplement the heat coming from the vents.
Close Doors and Vents in Unused Rooms
If there are areas of your house that are not used regularly, it is wasteful to keep them heated. Even small rooms such as closets and pantries contribute to the workload of your heater. Be sure to close doors to unoccupied rooms and seal off the heating vents. This small action will help shave dollars off of monthly utility bills. Confining heat to occupied rooms may also reduce the need to utilize a space heater in addition to your home furnace. While these appliances are useful, they have several drawbacks and must be operated with care. UCNSB encourages safe practices for space heater safety.
Use Curtains and Blinds
Don’t underestimate the amount of heat that can enter through your home’s windows. Draw curtains back or raise blinds early in the morning, and leave them open throughout the day. Remember to close them when the sun begins to set to help seal in warmth throughout the night. Heavy, thick curtains do a better job of insulating windows when outside temperatures dip than thin material.
Flip the Switch on Ceiling Fans
Reversing the rotation of ceiling fans is quite possibly the most overlooked way to adjust the temperature in your home. When fan blades circulate counterclockwise, they force the air near the ceiling down toward the ground. When you reverse the rotation of the blades so that they turn clockwise, they lift the cooler air from the lower area of the room and replace it with the warmer air that collects near the ceiling. This can be done easily by flipping the small switch located on the side of most fans.
Wear Cozy Clothes
This tip may seem obvious, but many people will be quick to bump the temperature higher on their thermostat when they catch a chill. Before jumping up to adjust the heat, grab a comfy sweater or put on some socks. It’s also helpful to keep blankets in the living room, so they are on hand when needed. Every degree that the heater climbs significantly increases your home’s electric bill, so it is essential to consider how warm your home really needs to be for your family to be comfortable.
Seal in the Warmth
Florida’s mild temperatures and relatively short-lived winter may not provide enough motivation to inspire a large-scale overhaul of your home’s insulation. However, there are still a couple of easy ways to cash in on the concept. Warm air naturally seeks to flow toward cooler areas, so the heated air inside your home wants to escape through any unsealed spot it can find. Simply folding towels and placing them along the bottom of drafty doorways or windowsills can help to keep heat from escaping. Another option is to hang thick curtains over windows that can be drawn at night when temperatures are at their lowest. Finally, area rugs will keep hard floors from transferring chill to the room as they absorb cold from the ground. These simple steps will help hold onto the warmth provided by your heater for as long as possible.
Although our local temps will likely remain very warm throughout this month, we hope that our UCNSB customers will keep this article in mind when this year’s first chilly morning arrives. The methods outlined above provide quick fixes for conserving energy in your home throughout the fall and winter months. However, if you’d like to take a more thorough approach to the weatherization of your home, it is wise to begin those projects now. The Department of Energy website offers a great resource. They provide guidance on home insulation, sealing, replacement of windows and doors, heating systems, and more. Choose the right combination of minor adjustments and larger maintenance tasks for your home. This will help you be ready to take full advantage of energy savings during our cooler months!