EXTENSION CONNECTION: 5 ways to save money on energy costs

Jill Breslawski| Special to Gannett

Even though the calendar says it is spring, the weather outside this week has been telling us that it is definitely summer. 

It seems that scorching temperatures, humidity, and the fierce rays of the summer sun have made their way to Northwest Florida, and soon our electric bills will reflect it. Balancing our comfort in our homes with our checkbooks can be a challenge. Here are a few ways to keep your energy costs from soaring to new heights this season. 

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Office for Okaloosa County is located in Crestview.

1) Close the curtains. During the daytime, sunshine hitting your windows and doors can help magnify your home temperature. To minimize this effect, close your curtains or blinds while you’re at work and throughout the day to keep the sunlight from coming to heating rooms and working your air conditioning unit. Thermal or blackout curtains or shades work best. 

2) Insulate. Cracks and crevices through your home will allow cool air produced by your AC unit to escape and let hot air in. Use caulk or foam sealer where appropriate and weather stripping on your doors and windows to put a stop to these costly leaks.

3) Change your filter. Make it a regular appointment on your calendar to change your AC unit filter once a month. The build-up of dust, dirt, and debris like pet hair on a filter can put a lot of stress on your unit, making it work harder to cool your home. Changing your air filter once a month can keep your unit running more efficiently and may prevent costly repairs.

4) Use a fan. Using a standing, ceiling, or desktop fan can help to keep you cool throughout the summer while allowing you to turn the temperature on your AC up. So, for example, setting your AC at 76 instead of 72 and using a fan to help cool you will use less energy than using your AC alone. Be sure only to use your fan while you are in the room. Remember, fans are not meant to be left running 24/7 and only cool people; they do not cool rooms. Running a fan in an empty room is a waste of electricity and may burn out.

5) Open your windows: If there is a cool night with low humidity, open your windows and let nature do its job. Be sure to close the windows early in the morning before the sun hits and the air temperature rises.

Living well webinars can help

For more information about energy efficiency and live home maintenance demonstrations, join us for Living Well Wednesday webinars on June 9, 16, and 23 at 11:30 a.m. Central Time. Register for these free webinars at http://bit.ly/LWWhome.

For more information, please contact Jill Breslawski, Family, and Consumer Science with the UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension, at 850-689-5850 or jbreslawski@ufl.edu.

Jill Breslawski

Jill Breslawski is an agent at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.