Home Energy: Tour Tips


This table offers a room-by-room summary of the key energy efficient technology and conservation behavior tips that appear within the My Florida Home Energy Interactive Tour web page. More detailed guidance can be found within the Energy Education Library.


Authors: Hal S. Knowles IIIa, Lesly Jeromea, and Nicholas Taylora

a Program for Resource Efficient Communities, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

First published June 2013. Revised May 2015.

This is a fact sheet for the Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC). The goal of the consortium is to become a world leader in energy research, education, technology, and energy systems analysis.

Table of Tips

Location in Tour Tip Name Efficient Technologies Conservation Behaviors
whole-houseHome InspectionIn addition to the specialized focus of a home energy audit, a professional, state-licensed, home inspection can verify the condition of a house for purchase as well as identify the need for recommended repairs and/or upgrades for homeowners.Home inspections are commonly conducted when purchasing or refinancing an existing home. Owners or buyers of older homes should pay special attention to inspecting mold and moisture issues as well as the active or past presence of wood-destroying organisms.
whole-houseHome Energy AuditConsider asking your utility for a simple, free home energy audit (if they offer one), or even better, hiring a certified Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Rater to evaluate the energy performance of your home and offer recommendations on how to save energy and money.Do-It-Yourself (DIY) minded individuals can educate themselves and perform their own basic energy performance evaluation using this website and other self-guided tools. Learn more in our Energy Education Library and visit all our resources within Find Help tab.
whole-houseOutdoor Lighting FixturesReplace frequently used outdoor lighting systems with CFL or LED compatible fixtures and lamps (i.e., bulbs). Remember to always turn off your outdoor lights when not in use or install motion sensors to maintain security while minimizing unnecessary energy use.
whole-housePool OperationsInstall a programmable ENERGY STAR® qualified pool pump to save energy with a more efficient motor and by limiting wasteful pump operating times.Even without upgrading to a more efficient pool pump, you can install a separate pool timer to reduce filtration times. Set pool timers to activate for short periods throughout the day.
whole-housePool MaintenanceInstall a pool cover to reduce maintenance requirements and save on your pool heating costs.Using a robotic cleaner can help to keep your pool clean and further save on maintenance time and effort. Lowering temperatures on pools and spas when not in active use can further save on your utility bills.
livingroomHVAC Air Handling UnitHave a licensed professional regularly check on the performance of your heating and cooling unit.Check your air filters monthly and replace as recommended (typically every 60 to 90 days) or when visibly clogged and dirty.
livingroomHVAC Compressor UnitSize matters! Be sure to have a proper load analysis that calculates the right sized HVAC equipment to meet your home needs. Improperly sized equipment, either too small but more often too large, is an unfortunate and common problem which can lead to poor comfort and indoor environmental quality problems.Keep it clean! Trim any landscape vegetation and remove any litter found around your compressor in order to maximize airflow and performance efficiency.
livingroomProgrammable & Learning ThermostatInstalling a programmable thermostat can improve regulation of the home's temperature and humidity without constant monitoring or input throughout the day by automatically adjusting the HVAC system to predefined (or user-defined) programmed "set points."One way to save on your energy bill is to turn up the thermostat in the warmer months (ideally ≥ 78 degrees Fahrenheit) and turn down your thermostat in the cooler months (ideally ≤ 68 degrees Fahrenheit).
livingroomLighting ControlsLighting controls (e.g., occupancy sensors, timers) use various automation methods to help save on utility bills by turning on lights only when needed.Remember to always turn off your lights when leaving a room.
livingroomRecessed LightingWhen located along the threshold between conditioned and unconditioned spaces, replace conventional recessed can light fixtures with airtight, IC (insulation contact) rated Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved fixtures meeting ASTM E283 requirements.Consider LED lamps (i.e., bulbs) for recessed light fixtures as the ballasts in CFLs may have reduced longevity due to overheating in the confined spaces.
livingroomControl Plug LoadsConsider using a smart power strip to plug in major computer equipment, appliances, and electronics with high idle energy draws to reduce the phantom plug loads of the home.Manually unplug little used electronics and any power inverter cables (e.g., phones, personal music players, tablet PCs) when they are not in use to further reduce phantom loads.
bedroomCeiling FansTurning the thermostat to a warmer setting according to personal comfort and using a ceiling fan for in-room cooling can produce easy energy savings throughout the warm months. Ceiling fan and light combo kits that have earned the ENERGY STAR® label are more efficient than conventional fan and light units.While HVAC systems actually cool the air within a room, ceiling fans do not change the air temperature, but rather only cool people standing under the fan by moving air across their skin surface. Always remember to turn off the ceiling fan when no one is in the room.
bedroomClothes WashingENERGY STAR® clothes washers typically have larger drum sizes and more efficient water management which can combine to save energy and water in your home.Use cold water and full loads during clothes washing to further reduce energy and water usage.
bedroomEnergy Efficient Lamps (Light Bulbs)Install CFL or LED lamps (i.e., light bulbs) to replace old incandescent ones to save energy and reduce home maintenance requirements.Use the Lighting Facts labels on the package of light bulbs to determine your ideal light bulb based on its brightness, color temperature, and energy usage rate.
bathroomWater HeatingUpgrade older water heaters with current ENERGY STAR® models, regardless of your fuel type, be it electricity, natural gas, or propane.Add wrap insulation to your older tank-style water heater, set your temperature controller to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and turn off your water heater while away for extended periods of time to reduce unnecessary energy consumption.
bathroomPlumbing FixturesConsider installing a WaterSense labeled plumbing fixture to save on water and energy. These third party tested and certified products (e.g., toilets, sink faucets, showerheads, weather-based irrigation controllers) meet the US Environmental Protection Agency's performance and water efficiency specifications.Cost effective ways to save energy and water can be as simple as installing faucet aerators, keeping showers short (i.e., under 10 mintues), finding and fixing plumbing leaks and drippy fixtures, only running water when its necessary, insulating hot water pipes, and lowering the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
bathroomWaterSense High Efficiency Toilet (HET)Replacing an old multi-gallon toilet with a modern, WaterSense labeled high efficiency toilet (HET) can improve flush performance while saving thousands of gallons of water each year. The best resource for guiding your toilet selection is the Maximum Performance (MaP) Testing Program and their customized toilet model search engine.If you don't have the budget or interest in a new toilet upgrade, you can still save water by using a toilet displacement device (e.g., plastic containers filled with pebbles or water) to reduce the amount water used for each flush.
bathroomBathroom Ventilation FanAn ENERGY STAR® bathroom ventilation fan can help to control humidity and reduce mold and mildew in shower and bath areas. Run your bathroom ventilation fan both during and for at least 15 minutes after showers and baths to ensure proper removal of humid air.
kitchenRefrigeratorAn ENERGY STAR® qualified refrigerator uses 20 percent less energy than current federal standards, about 40 percent less than conventional models sold in 2001, and about 50 percent less than models manufactured prior to 1993.If possible, avoid using older refrigerators for additional food and beverage storage and instead get a slightly larger ENERGY STAR® replacement model to provide the necessary space. Also, remember to locate freezers inside a conditioned space of the home and to defrost regularly to keep them running efficiently.
kitchenMicrowave CookingUsing microwaves for heating small portions of food can save energy and time when cooking while also reducing the load on your home's HVAC system during the cooling season.
kitchenKitchen Ventilation FanConsider purchasing an ENERGY STAR® ventilation hood to save on energy while managing the kitchen air quality from cooking fumes and steam.Regularly clean grease and debris from kitchen ventilation hood grills and grates to keep them running efficiently.
kitchenDishwashingConsider replacing that old diswasher with an ENERGY STAR® model to extend your home energy and water savings.Handheld silicone dish scrapers are a great way to save energy and water by quickly and effectively pre-cleaning dishes before handwashing or using a dishwasher. Save even more by running your dishwasher with a full load and by using the no heat option.
dining-roomCaulking and WeatherstrippingAir leaks are the largest source of wasted cooling and heating energy within homes. Hire a professional or educate yourself to find and seal the leaky openings into your home.Simple and low-tech strategies like caulking, weatherstripping, and insulating foam spray can be applied by the average Do-It-Yourself (DIY) weekend warrior to minimize air leaks around doors, windows, and wall penetrations (e.g., pipes, electrical outlets).
dining-roomDoor OpeningsConsider upgrading to ENERGY STAR® qualified exterior entry doors and sliding glass doors to create a tighter, more secure building envelope to the home.Use weatherstripping and a floor sweep around doors and caulk around the edge of frames and to seal them from the exterior elements.
dining-roomWindow TreatmentsStrategically shading windows from direct sun in the summer reduces the cooling demands on your HVAC system while encouraging direct sun in the winter offers free space heating. Seasonally appropriate window shading practices can be managed with insulating blinds and drapes from the inside or with architectural elements (e.g., awnings, louvers) and landscaping (e.g., properly placed deciduous trees) from the outside.
dining-roomWindow FilmSometimes existing windows in good condition may offer safety, security, and ease of functionality, while failing to offer a high level of energy efficiency. In these situations, a home may be a better candidate for energy efficient (e.g., reflective or tinted) window films versus a whole-house window replacement.Install only National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) certified applied film and focus on all windows with eastern and western exposures as well as any southern exposed windows without proper shading from awnings or trees.
dining-roomDual Pane, Low-E WindowsConsider replacing older style windows with new, energy efficient, dual pane ENERGY STAR® windows, to reduce heating and cooling costs through reduced air leakage (AL ≤ 0.3 cfm/ft2), improved condensation resistance (CR higher is better), low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC ≤ 0.30), low heat loss (U-factor ≤ 0.65), all while maintaining good quality visible transmittance (VT ≥ 0.50).If new windows are too expensive, you can improve your existing windows by caulking and weatherstripping, installing window film, or adding solar screens.
roofAttic Access CoverConsider installing a tight locking mechanism and using a pre-made insulated attic cover to protect the interior of your home from intrusion of unconditioned air and heat.Insulate and weatherstrip your attic access cover to reduce air leakage and inspect your attic soffit and gable vents to clear any visible debris and maintain proper attic ventilation.
roofAttic & Ceiling InsulationHeat flows from warm areas to cool areas. In Florida, this often means heat is flowing from the warmer outdoors to the cooler air-conditioned indoors. On winter days this is reversed as heat flows from a warm inside to a cold outside. Insulation can reduce the amount of heat that flows in both directions, reducing cooling and heating costs. Insulation is rated in terms of its thermal resistance (or R-value).Current best home building practices indicate an R-30 to R-38 insulation in the attic is good for all climate zones in the state of Florida.
roofDuct SealingTypical duct systems can lose up to 40% of your heating or cooling energy. Check duct systems for holes or tears and hire a licensed HVAC contractor to properly air seal and insulate your ducts to help maximize the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.
roofCool RoofingENERGY STAR® qualified cool roofing products with high reflectivity can lower roof surface temperatures by up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, thereby decreasing the amount of heat transferred into your home and reducing peak cooling load by 10 to 15 percent.Appropriately placed large canopy, but high wind resistant, shade tree species can strategically shade your roof and also reduce cooling loads. But special care must be paid to proper periodic tree pruning and rooftop debris clearing to ensure the health of your trees and the safety of your home.
roofThrough-the-Roof DaylightingChoose an ENERGY STAR® tubular daylighting device or skylight for a southern climate zone to enjoy the energy saving and aesthetic benefits of daylighting in your home.Thoughtful placement of through-the-roof daylighting devices is necessary to balance the ambient light needs for poorly lit interior spaces and the differential seasonal effects sunlight may have on the heating and cooling loads of the home.
roofSolar Water HeatingTap the power of the Sunshine State's namesake to create domestic hot water from an active or passive ENERGY STAR® qualified solar water heating system.Domestic hot water consumption is a highly variable home energy demand that depends heavily on the number of occupants, their personal preferences, and their time of day patterns of water use. Expensive technologies like solar water heating systems may not have a good return on the investment if your household takes short showers and baths, washes clothes and dishes in mostly cold water, and/or generally uses hot water more heavily in the morning hours than the late afternoon and early evening hours.
roofSolar Photovoltaic (PV) SystemsSolar photovoltaic (PV ) systems are a key part of our clean and green energy future. All forms of energy production, from fossil fuel systems to renewable fuel systems, have an energy return on investment (EROI), which is a ratio of the lifetime energy that can be produced by the system versus the embodied energy and raw materials used to produce, distribute, and operate the system. Most Floridians buying a new or existing home, as well as those simply refinancing their current home, may benefit from having a certified solar contractor conduct a site evaluation and provide an estimate for a new solar PV system. With low interest rates and continually dropping solar PV system costs, monthly utility bill savings from even simple net metering can often be higher than the monthly principal and interest value of the solar PV portion on a 30-year mortgage. There are many of a PV system but the main considerations are the cost of installing and maintaining the PV system compared to the estimated annual energy production and the cost of retail electricity.

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