Some like it hot. But when it comes to another sweltering Florida summer, most of us prefer it a bit cooler! How can you stay comfortable – without raising your utility bill through the roof?

Cool Can Be Costly

They don’t call it the “Sunshine State” for nothing! The year-round warmth is a prime attraction for Florida residents and visitors, but it comes with a cost. In fact, air conditioning accounts for 27 percent of the total energy consumed in Florida. The national average is just 6 percent!

Utility bills can skyrocket during the hot months, draining hundreds of dollars from your pockets. Would you rather put that money toward investments? A vacation? A more energy-efficient AC unit? Here are some green ways to lower your energy bill:

1. Start at the beginning. If you are house hunting, seek out energy efficient home builders. Over a few years, you can save thousands of dollars. That’s money you can invest in retirement or a college savings account, save for a rainy day, or spend elsewhere. The good news is that Florida’s housing stock tends to be smaller and newer than other states – this means you already have a head start on containing costs to lower your energy bill.

2. Cover up. Use shades on east- and west-facing windows. These windows get the most direct sunlight at sunrise and sunset, heating up your home more effectively than any furnace! Windows exchange heat much more readily than the walls of your home do, and shades help curb this.

Also consider blackout curtains. According to Consumer Reports, neutral-colored options with white plastic backing reduce heat gain by up to a third. The curtains will lower your energy bill and pay for themselves in no time.

3. Plant shade over east- and-west-facing windows. If trees cast shade down on windows, the sun won’t be directly heating them up. Because you want a bit more heat during the winter, keep the shade to a minimum on the southern side of the house. This is where the sun shines most during the cooler months.

4. Move that air. Ceiling fans don’t consume a lot of energy, and they allow you to leave the temperature control set higher. Remember, for every degree you turn the AC down under 78?, you’ll spend as much as 8 percent more in energy costs. You will likely be just as comfortable with a higher AC setting and a fan-generated breeze.

Make sure to set your fan to run counter-clockwise in the summer. This creates a cooling effect.

5. Go green. Houseplants moderate the temperature, so they’ll cool warm environments and warm cool environments. And they look great!

6. Invest in a dehumidifier, if you don’t have an air conditioner with humidity control. Controlling humidity makes the environment feel more tolerable in your home. Try to run the dehumidifier later in the day, as it can run a little warm. As an added bonus, dehumidifiers also help guard against mold and mildew – a must for homeowners in humid states like Florida.

7. Heat up your evenings. Save activities that generate a great deal of heat for after the hottest hours of the day. Run the dishwasher after sunset, for instance.

On a related note, you can skip heat-generating activities altogether. Instead of firing up the oven – and roasting more than your dinner – use a backyard grill or go for a cool salad.

8. Turn off the AC in unused rooms and keep the doors closed. This cuts down on the amount of space you’re cooling – just make sure the rooms don’t get too humid.

9. Keep your AC maintained and change your filters according to the specs. Inefficient AC can increase your energy costs as much as 15%.

10. Chill out. If you’re relaxing on a steamy evening, place a bowl with ice or an ice pack at an angle in front of a large fan. The air passing through will be super-chilled and refreshing.

11. Cool yourself. You can take steps to be more comfortable without relying on AC. For example, you can pop your cotton sheets in the freezer before bed. This will help you stay cooler. In addition, you can use a buckwheat pillow, which doesn’t trap heat, and keep hydrated on icy drinks.

These are just a few effective ways to lower your energy bill. Remember that when looking for a new home, energy efficient home builders design and build homes to reduce energy costs and environmental impact. These homes don’t skimp on amenities – they just use energy in an intelligent way! Contact Synergy Homes today for more information about high-performance, energy-efficient homes.

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