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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/15/2005 4:13:56 AM EDT
Just bought a house here in sunny central/west coast of Florida. Granted, I don't have to worry about heating in the winter, but I want to start to make it a lot more energy efficient to save on power bills.

It is a 1969 concrete block/stucco house. AC is about 12 yeras old but was very lightly used as this was a vacation home used 1 month a year. Insulation is probably pretty thin in the attic. New roof being put on right now, with vents. Not a lot of shade. Lots of crank-style windows. All electric, with electric water heater.

Here's my thoughts:

Eventually replace Heat Pump with possible a Geo-thermal unit. From what I understand they are about 20%-25% more at first, but save about 15%-20% on electricity usage, so it will pay for itself inside of 5 years for the extra cost.

Programmable thermostat.

Solar hot water heater.

New double pane, double hung insulated vinyl windows with Argon gas between panes.

More insulation in attic.

Any other ideas, opinions, thoughts?

Anyone have a link to the new benefits of the Energy Bill just signed regarding tax credits for any of these things?
Link Posted: 8/15/2005 4:20:35 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/15/2005 4:27:57 AM EDT by Charging_Handle]
You are definately on the right track. The changes you just mentioned should make a great deal of difference.

One more thing I might take a look at is lighting. There are some very energy efficient lighting options available these days.

You might also consider adding glaze to the windows to better help filter out the sun's rays.

Of course those are all mechanical or physical changes. There are things you can do yourself to limit excess consumption. Turning off products that are not needed or in use can be helpful. Think of all the wasteful ways you consume power and develop strategies for dealing with them.

It probably varies from area to area, but some power companies offer incentives for such practices. So document all the changes you make and save receipts of the equipment/products you purchase.

I was the director of the Rebuild America project in my region from 2001-2003 and did quite a bit of work in this particular area (energy efficiency). However, I mainly dealt with commercial buildings. I'm not sure how private dwellings are treated in comparison as far as the incentives, but I can tell you that the same practices you mentioned above definately cut down on consumption.
Link Posted: 8/15/2005 4:27:11 AM EDT
Buried extension cord over to the neighbors.
Link Posted: 8/15/2005 4:29:47 AM EDT
New windows and new/more insulation in the attic are going to give you the quickest, and biggest,savings. IMO
Link Posted: 8/15/2005 4:35:00 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Red_Beard:
Buried extension cord over to the neighbors.

Link Posted: 8/15/2005 4:36:57 AM EDT
Found this out regarding the Energy Bill just passed:

Under the new bill, consumers are eligible for up to a $500 tax credit for money they spend on energy improvements in their homes.
Homeowners, for example, can get $300 credit for highly efficient central air conditioner, heat pump or water heater. Installing energy-saving windows could be good for a $200 credit.
Consumers are also eligible for a 30 percent tax credit, or up to $2,000, for purchasing a solar-powered water heater or any fuel cell equipment for their home.
Consumers who want to take advantage of the energy bill tax breaks for their home must do so between Jan. 1, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2007.
Link Posted: 8/15/2005 4:37:35 AM EDT
new windws first.

jalousie windows were designed for the pre-AC world
Link Posted: 8/15/2005 4:47:05 AM EDT
Using florescent lighting (they do make ones with a more natural light) heavily, obtaining appliances with the Energy Star rating (these save I believe 25% or more off "standard appliances" would be a good start.

Also, if it's available, a time of use plan can save you money too. Example: I pay one rate for all electricity consumed between 8am and 8pm: 16cents/kwh, and another rate for between 8pm and 8am: 6kwh...if you can arrange for most of your heavy power drains to be done after 8, you can save a fair bit of money.
Link Posted: 8/15/2005 4:57:41 AM EDT
Whew. How much are those new windows going to cost you? How long do you figure it will take you to recoup those costs?

I would be more interested in replacing the crank windows for the security aspect. However, if you do replace them, it would be killing 2 birds with one stone.

Shade is your friend. If you are going to be there for a while, plant some trees. But plant the right ones. Lots of people in FL have Scheffelera (sp?) and Ficus trees planted for shade. But those are on the Florida recommended do not plant list due to their invasiveness and Ficus requires lots of water. The right trees will beautify your home and provide good shade coverage. I have 3 Live oak trees and 1 Laurel oak in my backyard (all 4 survived direct hits from Frances and Jeanne last year, while 2 of my palm trees did not) that completely shade my back yard. During the day, there is a extremely noticeable difference between my back yard and front yard. I don't recommend the Laurel oak as they are not traditionally as strong as Live oaks.

Last year, I planted some trees in my front yard called Weeping Podocarpus. They are a relatively quick growing, hardy tree. And once they are established, they are very drought resistant. The downside is, they look kind of like Christmas trees until they get taller and you can start to trim them up from the ground. However, you must be South enough for them to grow. I think going across the top of Lake Okeechobee is about as far north as they will reliably grow.

Also, don't forget good hedges or shrubs. A lot of heat is transferred through the walls of your house to the inside when the sun is shining on them. If you have properly maintained shrubs around your house, they can block much of the suns rays before they hit your walls. This is important because as your walls heat up during the day, the concrete absorbs a lot of the heat and continues to transfer it through the walls long after the sun goes down.

Here's a couple of good sites for plants and trees in FL.



Definitely install a programmable thermostat, especially if you are gone during the day. And call your local power company (FPL?) and have them come and do a free leak check on your AC vents. And see about signing up up for their energy saving plan where they connect a device to your AC compressor, water heater and pool pump (if you have one) that allows them to shut them off during times of peak usage. I think they only turn them off for a maximum of 15 minutes. They credit you each month for being on this plan whether or not they actually turn off any of those items. You get more of a credit in the summer than in the winter of course.

Good luck!
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