Is Bigger, Better? Busting A/C and Other Summer Energy Myths

By  //  June 29, 2021

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FPL busts six of the most common summer energy myth to help cool rising electricity costs

Summer is around the corner, but Floridians are already feeling the heat. Did you know weather is the number one cause of higher electric bills? The main culprit? Yep, you guessed it — rising outdoor temperatures lead to more A/C use, which can account for half or more of your monthly energy costs. (FPL image)

Summer is around the corner, but Floridians are already feeling the heat. Did you know weather is the number one cause of higher electric bills?

The main culprit? Yep, you guessed it — rising outdoor temperatures lead to more A/C use, which can account for half or more of your monthly energy costs.

So, with the spring tuneups now behind us, it’s time to start thinking about ways to beat the heat by turning those savings into a summer energy win.

But where to start? Should you replace your A/C unit with a different model? Close the vents in rooms you don’t use? There are a lot of summer energy strategies out there that claim to help you save on your summer energy bill.

Luckily, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is here to help you figure out if they’re the real deal, or not. We’re busting six of the most common summer energy myths to help you cool those rising electricity costs.

MYTH 1: Bigger is better … when it comes to AC units. (Bust It)

FACT: Size matters, but not the way you think.

An A/C unit that’s too small will have to work too hard to cool your home, while one that’s too big will create extra humidity and may not cool evenly.

Think Goldilocks and the Three Bears: A/C edition. You have to find the unit that is just right for your home’s size.

Check out our A/C buying guide for everything you need to know about picking the perfect air conditioner for your home, including how you can qualify for an FPL rebate by working with a Participating Independent Contractor (PIC)

MYTH 2: Closing vents in rooms you don’t use helps A/C be more efficient. (Bust It)

FACT: Go with the (air)flow or it’ll cost you.

If your home has a spare room or two, you may be tempted to close the A/C vents, shut the door and forget about it. The thought process is you’re redirecting flow to the rest of the house, therefore cooling it faster and keeping electricity costs lower.

In reality, your A/C is still spending energy trying to cool that part of your house. This is because most A/C units operate as central air systems that distribute air throughout the entire home.

Maintain proper airflow by keeping interior doors and vents open to help air circulate.

MYTH 3: Turning off A/C when you leave is more energy efficient. (Bust It)

FACT: Your A/C works hard. Don’t make it work harder.

The frugal economist in you may want to turn off your thermostat before you leave, just like you turn off the lights in a room you’re no longer using. The truth is, this actually makes your A/C system work harder to cool off your home once you’re back, as temperatures have probably risen a couple of degrees — especially in the dead of a good old Florida summer.

Instead, adjust the temperature gradually by turning it up a few degrees higher before you leave the house. We recommend the sweet spot of 82 degrees. This way, you’re preventing your home from getting too hot and having to make up for it later.

You may also want to look into smart thermostats, which allow you to change the temperature while you’re away or even adjust automatically based on your schedule. Available options depend on how much you want to spend.

MYTH 4: Keep fans running all day instead of your A/C unit. (Bust It)

FACT: Fans cool you, not the room.

Don’t get it twisted: Fans are generally less expensive to run than A/C units, especially if you’re running them at the same time. Why? Because they push circulated air down, causing a breeze that cools the body and temporarily cools the room. This means if you turn on a ceiling fan, you can actually raise the thermostat on your A/C unit a few degrees without lessening the cooling effect, saving you on cooling costs.

However, fans are meant to cool people, not rooms. Keeping a fan running all day instead of your A/C unit doesn’t do much to cool the entire room. Instead, it recirculates existing air in the room at a higher speed, so, if you’re not in the room to reap the benefits, this strategy is a bit of hot air. 

Moral of the story: Treat ceiling fans as you would lights. Turn them off before you leave a room.

MYTH 5: Windows and doors don’t really impact energy loss. (Bust It)

FACT: Windows and doors hold the keys to summer energy savings.

Did you know heat gain through windows is responsible for 25% to 30% of cooling energy use in your home? On top of that, the air that stays behind a closed door of a room always finds a way to escape, and that’s cold air and electricity wasted.

Shut out high energy costs by closing windows, and welcome cooler air by opening internal doors. Make sure your windows are sealed, insulated and have heat-resistant glass, and use shades to keep sunlight out. As for your doors, maintain proper airflow by keeping them open to help cool your home faster.

MYTH 6: It’s impossible to keep the cool air in. (Bust It)

FACT: Insulate yourself from energy loss!

The roof is the largest surface area of the house and exposed to the sun for the longest time. That makes it one of the biggest culprits for heating our home in the summer. In fact, the majority of heat that impacts our comfort and cooling costs typically infiltrates through our roof/ceiling.

So how can you beat that heat? Attic insulation is key. Not only does it improve your A/C’s ability to cool at an efficient rate, but it increases the home’s ability to retain the cool air longer and reduces frequent A/C cycles. The good news is, FPL has a rebate program that can help you save big money this summer on insulation installation.

MYTH 7: A/C is your only option. (Bust It)

FACT: There are many ways to beat the heat this summer!

As outdoor temperatures increase, those thermostat temperatures tend to go way down — but this shouldn’t be your only way to stay cool this summer.

Here are a few additional summer saving tips you can implement without breaking the bank:

■ Grill outside instead of using the oven or stove to reduce electricity use.

■ Clean or replace your A/C filter regularly to help your unit run more efficiently.

■ Understand your energy use with FPL’s Energy Analyzer.

For more tips on ways to save on your energy bill for home or business, check out the Watt’s Happening blog and keep up with the Watt’s Team!

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