Monday, February 25, 2008

Shocking Results from My Free Energy Audit

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the huge difference between my high electric bill and a neighbor's despite our similar lifestyles and apartments. (Our monthly tap was twice as high as my neighbor's bill.)

I subsequently arranged an onsite home audit, a free service FPL offers to its customers. The energy specialists examine your home, analyze your bill and target areas where you can save. It was definitely worth the time and effort.

Here's what happened: Raudel Valdes and Gabriel Palacios, FPL energy management specialists, arrived at my home carrying a laptop and printer. The central air conditioning/heating unit immediately caught their attention.
On the warm winter day the FPL team visited, the specialists calculated we had an hourly electric bill of 50 cents, including 40 cents to power the air conditioner.
After a thorough examination and a series of tests, the team offered these conclusions:

Beware of dust: Particles near the thermostat, on the AC pipes and near the air ducts seriously compromise the unit's efficiency and accuracy.

Repair damaged coils: Disfigured coils on the main AC/heating unit caused the air conditioner to run longer to reach the desired temperature.

Fill the gaps: Space around the air conditioning pipes and the gap between the ceiling and the air duct force the AC/heating unit to eat up energy.

Insulate the water heater: To save space, our water heater is directly below the air conditioning unit. The heat from the water heater forces the air conditioner to work harder. The FPL team recommended insulating the main copper pipe that leads to the water heater. This step will contain heat coming out of the water heater and improve cooling system's efficiency.

Shop for a replacement: Our aging air conditioner/central heat unit is an energy hog. We could save a fortune by asking the landlord to replace the model. ''With age, every appliance starts using more power,'' Valdes said. FPL offers rebates to consumers installing approved AC systems at

Other tips:

1. Take shorter showers.

2. Replace or fix the aging stove, which is also an energy hog.

3. Don't use fans in unoccupied rooms. Ceiling fans can cost as much as $8 a month (per fan) to operate if left on 24 hours a day.


This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.

1 comment:


Thank you! Your ideas left a valuable impression for my forthcomming project.