Here in Northwest Florida, we’re lucky to enjoy warm temperatures almost year-round and that means we use a lot of electricity. Between powering air conditioning, pool pumps, and general household appliances, your electric bill is probably a lot higher than you’d like.
Making key energy efficiency upgrades not only saves you money it also helps our environment. At SunFarm Energy, we pride ourselves on helping our customers find the best solar solution to fit their lifestyle. We consistently recommend energy efficiency upgrades, and thanks to the folks at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) we’ve got some great tips if you’re looking to make your home more efficient for the new year.
Why is Energy Efficiency Important?
Energy efficiency is an important step towards lowering your electric bill. When adding solar to that equation, the two go hand-in-hand. To quote Danny Parker, the Principal Research Scientist at the FSEC, we work to “balance efficiency and renewable energy.”
If you’re interested in offsetting 100% of your energy needs, it’s crucial to consider adding energy efficiency upgrades. Once you’ve maximized energy efficiency, we can help offset those remaining costs with a customized solar PV system. Overall, the more energy efficient the home, the smaller the solar PV system.
Making energy efficiency changes are also important for Florida residents who are consistently in the path of storms. Efficiency upgrades create a home that can remain comfortable for an extended period of time after a power interruption – especially during large storms and hurricanes.
Large Energy Efficiency Improvements:
Move Air Conditioning Ducts Out of the Attic
Significant cooling losses occur when air conditioning duct work moves through warmer air before reaching your home. Researchers at the FSEC learned that when cool air at 55 degrees Fahrenheit passes through ducts in an attic that reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit, about 20-30% of the cooling is lost before it even reaches the ceiling. If possible, move ducts out of the attic to prevent cooling losses.
Add Spray Foam Insulation
Adding spray foam insulation to your attic is also an important step towards reducing cooling loss and increasing efficiency. Spray foam changes the building envelope and insulates the home from higher temperatures from the top down. Your attic is usually 10-20 degrees hotter than the rest of your home because of direct sunlight on the roof. Managing temperatures in the attic with spray foam means you can reduce cooling loads elsewhere in the home, and it’s especially helpful if moving your duct work isn’t an option.
Install A Mini Split
If you can’t move your duct work, consider adding a mini or multi split heat pump. Adding a supplemental very high-efficiency mini-split heat pump to an existing central AC system can save 33% of your cooling alone. You can even purchase these options for a reasonable price at many home improvement box stores.
Replace Your Pool Pump
One third of Florida homes have pools, and pool pumps are a huge drain on electricity. FSEC scientists note that pool pumps require 3,000 to 4,000 kWh of electricity each year. Ditching your pool pump for a more energy efficient upgrade is one of the most cost effective decisions you can make. Switching to a variable speed pool pump typically cuts pool energy consumption by 80%, which equates to about $1 per day in savings.
Adding solar is an inherently energy efficient choice because the electricity you produce is closer to home – literally! When our homes receive power from generation facilities, that power is transmitted across a vast network of powerlines. Scientists at the FSEC estimate that between 7-10% of electricity is lost just in transmission alone. With solar on your roof, those electrons are much closer to home, ensuring that you utilize all the electricity you produce. In addition, while there is currently no data about the shading effects of solar PV systems, researchers at the FSEC estimate that installing PV arrays shade roofs enough to influence attic air temperatures. This extra shade reduces overall cooling loads, which is especially important in our hot Florida climate.
Small Energy Efficiency Improvements
When it comes to energy efficiency, every little bit helps. Additional changes could include replacing your light bulbs with energy efficient LED lighting wherever possible. You can also install smart thermostats like Nest, which learn your schedule and program themselves to save energy. Purchasing newer, more energy efficient appliances is also an important step. Lastly, you can make changes in even smaller ways by eliminating “phantom loads” which occur when energy is pulled from appliances that are plugged in but not in use. This includes chargers, fans, and other small appliances.
Do you have questions about energy efficiency upgrades and solar? Give us a call to speak with an Energy Consultant today.