And with the heat, comes an inevitable seasonal spike in electric bills. But summer doesn’t have to be a budget-buster.
Duke Energy, which services about 1.8 million Floridians, is helping consumers take control of their energy use by offering several simple, energy-efficient changes in the home.
Here are the Top 10 low-to-no-cost energy-efficiency tips for summer:
— Set your AC to the highest comfortable setting. Every degree increase saves about 5 percent in cooling costs. Energy Star recommends a minimum set point of 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
— Change or clean your air filters monthly. A dirty air filter can make a cooling system work harder, using more energy.
— Inspect and service your HVAC. Make sure your HVAC system is ready to keep you cool by having it checked by a qualified heating and air conditioning contractor.
— Don’t cool an empty house. If you are going out, program the thermostat to work around your schedule.
— Close the blinds. Shutting drapes and shades during the hottest part of the day can keep the sun’s rays from heating your house.
— Grill outdoors. Cooking in the oven and on the stovetop creates indoor heat. Help save energy by firing up the grill outdoors or prepare meals that do not require cooking.
— Use fans in occupied rooms. They circulate air to supplement air conditioning. Make sure they are set to operate in a counterclockwise direction.
— Turn off unnecessary lights. And, use energy-efficient light bulbs that use less electricity and emit less heat.
— Seal air leaks with caulking and weather stripping. And keep the door closed as much as often as possible to keep cold air inside.
— Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient lighting options. LEDs use up to 90 percent less energy than traditional bulbs, lasting at least 15 times longer than traditional bulbs.
Also, Duke Energy offers a variety of programs, incentives, and rebates to help customers save money, including Home Energy Checks, a free service performed online, over the phone or in person. Energy advisors can offer energy-saving recommendations and figure out customers’ eligibility for company rebates toward energy-efficient improvements.
After a home energy check, customers in single-family homes receive a free energy efficiency kit, which includes an energy-efficient showerhead, faucet aerators, a hot water gauge, a refrigerator/freezer thermometer, weather-strip seals for doors and windows, switch and outlet insulation seals and LED light bulbs.
To sign up, call (877) 574-0340 or visit the Duke Home Energy Check website. Customers living in apartments, condominiums, duplexes and townhomes may be eligible for the Multi-Family Energy Improvement Program.
— Upgrade attic insulation — Upgrading to insulation that’s rated R-38 or greater is the best way to reduce high home cooling and heating costs. Following a Duke Energy Home Energy Check, customers may qualify for a rebate of up to $200.
— High Bill Alerts — Duke customers can receive high bill alerts if a bill is projected to be $30 AND 30 percent greater than usual. Historical usage and temperatures are used to estimate consumption compared to the previous month. Duke will send a courtesy alert midway through the regular billing cycle, allowing customers to make energy-saving choices to help reduce their bill. To receive an alert, a customer should have a current email address on file and at least 12 months of usage history. More information is at www.duke-energy.com/home/billing/high-bill-alerts
Duke Energy Florida provides about 8,800 megawatts of owned electric capacity to a 13,000-square mile service area in the Sunshine State. With its Florida regional headquarters in St. Petersburg, Duke is one of the largest electric power holding companies in the United States, serving approximately 7.5 million customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest.