CFO Alex Sink's Consumer eViews Newsletter

                Volume 5  Number 38  September 19, 2008



Saving energy, saving money

Energy tips for Florida families - these actions represent ways to behave kindly toward Mother Earth, AND save money as well as energy.

Presented by CFO Alex Sink's science advisor Meg Lowman, Ph.D., on the faculty at New College of Florida. Dr. Lowman has written numerous award-winning books and is an expert on the rain forests of the world.

Lower your energy bill with efficient water heating

Water heating is the third largest energy expense in your home, typically accounting for about 13 percent of your utility bill. Try to cut your water heating bills by turning down the thermostat on your water heater, using less hot water, insulating your water heater, buying a new, more efficient water heater or installing a solar water heater.

Much of your household energy bill comes from maintaining hot water in the storage tank, ever ready to be utilized. Lower the thermostat - water heaters come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 120°F provides comfortable hot water for most uses.  First try a few degrees lower than it is currently set, then lower again to reach the optimum level of comfort for your family.

Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household. Showers are more efficient than baths - and take shorter showers.

Insulate your hot-water storage tank, being careful to follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Although most storage-tank heaters last 10-15 years, start thinking about a new one if yours is more than seven years old.  Efficiency has improved in newer models.

Demand water heaters (tankless) can easily replace traditional water heaters and are highly energy efficient. Cold water is piped through a heating (gas or electric) element direct to the hot water tap. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water which never runs out. No water tank stores hot water all day long, as in traditional systems. For homes using 41 gallons or less of hot water a day, demand water heaters can be 24-34 percent more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters. Equally appealing is the fact that most tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of more than 20 years. Traditional water heaters, on the other hand, last 10-15 years. Combine the energy savings of a tankless water heater with the long life, and you may find yourself getting such a system. Many are on the market, so carefully consider the different brands before you buy.

If you have an unshaded, south-facing location, like a roof, on your property, consider installing a solar water heater. Solar units are environmentally friendly and can be installed on your roof to blend with the architecture of your house. Solar water heating systems are also good for the environment by avoiding the harmful greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity production. During a 20-year period, one solar water heater can avoid over 50 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Look for systems certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation or the Florida Solar Energy Center.

Florida has a rebate program to encourage the use of solar heating systems:  Florida Solar Energy System Incentives Program