Energy Education

Home Energy Usage

Citizens of the Sunshine State spend less per person on energy than any other state in the country, about 20% less than the national average. However, keeping our homes comfortable uses a lot of energy. Over half of the average home's energy consumption is used for heating and cooling. Another 24% is used for lighting and appliances, 17% for heating water, and 5% for refrigeration.

Most homes still use the traditional incandescent bulbs. These bulbs convert only about 10% of the electricity they use to produce light; the other 90% is converted into heat. With new technologies, such as better filament designs and gas mixtures, incandescent bulbs are more efficient than they used to be. Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or "CFLs", have made inroads into home lighting systems in the last few years. These bulbs are more expensive to purchase, but last much longer and use much less energy, producing significant savings over the life of the bulb.

Appliances such as water heaters, refrigerators, washing machines and dryers are also more energy efficient than they used to be. In 1990 Congress passed the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, which requires new appliances to meet strict energy efficiency standards.

Natural gas is the most widely used energy source in American homes, followed by electricity, heating oil and propane. Natural gas and heating oil (fuel oil) are used mainly for home heating. Electricity may also be used for heating and cooling, plus it lights our homes and runs almost all of our appliances. Due to climate, Florida residents rely heavily on electricity for air conditioning like other state’s residents rely heavily on natural gas for heating.) According to the 2000 census, 87% of Florida home heating is with electricity (ranks first among the states). In 2005 the Environmental Information Administration (EIA) data ranked Florida fourth among the states in per capita consumption of electricity in homes.

Home Energy Audits

A home energy audit is often the first step in making your home more efficient. An audit can help you assess how much energy your home uses and evaluate what measures you can take to improve efficiency. But remember, audits alone don't save energy. You need to implement the recommended improvements. Energy Star provides extensive information about home improvement projects to enhance energy efficiency, lower utility bills, and increase comfort. Your first step should be to contact your utility to see if they offer free or discounted energy audits to their customers. If not, you can perform a simple energy audit yourself, or have a professional energy auditor perform a more thorough audit.

Do-It-Yourself Audits

If you have five minutes and your last 12 months of utility bills, use the Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick to compare your home's energy efficiency to similar homes across the country and get recommendations for energy-saving home improvements from Energy Star. You will also need to enter some basic information about your home (such as zip code, age, square footage, and number of occupants). If you don't have your bills, contact your utility for a 12 month summary.

Hire a Professional Home Energy Auditor

If you are interested in getting specific recommendations for improving the efficiency of your home, consider contacting a professional Home Energy Auditor. A professional auditor can use a variety of techniques and equipment to determine the energy efficiency of your home. Thorough audits often use equipment such as blower doors, which measure the extent of leaks in the building envelope, and infrared cameras, which reveal hard-to-detect areas of air infiltration and missing insulation.