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Ask the Expert: What costs more - heating or cooling?

You may be surprised to learn that heating is more expensive than cooling - that's because most structures in Florida use electric resistance strip heaters which use more energy than typical cooling systems.  Homes and offices in Florida that use electric heating are not energy-efficient and can cost a lot more to operate. In fact, it can take up to three times more electricity to heat an area than to cool it, which equates to a higher bill.

When you are cooling your space, you are taking the excess heat from inside the area and moving it outside. Next time you run your A/C, put your hand near the outside unit – you’ll be able to feel the heat that used to be in your house coming out of it.

In contrast, if you heat with electric resistance heating, you are converting electrical energy to heat energy. It takes a lot of electricity to make heat, which will consequently drive up your energy consumption. It is far less expensive to move heat from one place to another than it is to generate it by converting energy.

While extreme cold weather is rare in Florida, we can always count on at least one good cold snap to drive higher energy bills if you turn on your heat.

Most efficient way to heat your home

The most efficient way to heat your home is with an electric heat pump – but, most structures in Florida don’t have a heat pump. Instead, they rely on a heating element in their HVAC system.

Heat pumps are more efficient and can help you save money if you live in a colder part of the state, or if you run the heat often in the winter. In fact, those who use heat frequently could save up to $75 per year heating with a heat pump system compared to a standard HVAC system.

How to save money on heating costs

If you heat your space with an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system, here are some suggestions to save money:

  1. Heat only the parts of your home that you’re using. Heating your whole area is more expensive than heating part of it. Use space heaters or heating panels in the rooms that you actually use. This works only for small spaces – if you are heating a larger area, using space heaters will cost more than central air.
  2. Adjust your living environment so that you’re comfortable at lower temperatures. Put rugs on bare floors, use heating pads and personal heaters to keep yourself warm. You can also wear thick socks, slippers, and layered clothing. Warming yourself is a lot cheaper than trying to warm your whole space. Once you’re warm, turn your thermostat down to 67°F or lower to save energy.
  3. Insulation within the home or office is your first step to lower heating costs. Good insulation prevents your space from leaking precious heat. Another thing to focus on is the quality of your doors and windows, as they can cause loss of heat in winter months. Weather stripping doors and windows can help insulate your area and keep heat from escaping.
  4. Turn the heat off when you don’t need it. Turn your heat off (or way down) at night, and when you’re away from your home or office. Contrary to popular myth, it does not cost more to re-heat your space than it does to constantly heat it.
  5. Use ceiling fans. Yes, ceiling fans can actually make you warmer. In the winter, you simply put the fan on the lowest speed so the fan isn’t fast enough for the wind chill effect to kick in. It will be fast enough to push down the warm air that collects near the ceiling. (Remember, hot air rises.) So the key is: fast speed for summer, slow speed for winter. If the fan gives you a wind-chill effect on the slow speed, just change the fan’s direction by using the switch on the side. In the winter, having the fan blow air UP will push warm air off the ceiling, along the walls, and toward the floor without rushing past and cooling you. Ceiling fans use very little electricity and can make a BIG difference in your comfort level.
  6. When installing a new HVAC system, don’t oversize it. Most HVAC installers install a bigger system than you need. This doesn’t warm your area any better, and you just wind up spending a lot more for installation. Get a system no larger than what your house or office requires. Installing more efficient equipment is a surefire way to reduce your energy cost/consumption.
  7. What else? Finally, getting your equipment professionally tuned-up every year can make a huge difference in efficient and safe operation.

How to save more:

Also remember that the new FPL Energy Manager provides personalized saving suggestions based on your consumption history and opportunities, and it can help you find quick ways to lower your energy bill throughout the year.

The Energy Manager breaks down and itemizes the actual cost and use of energy throughout your home or office. See what it really costs to run your A/C, appliances and devices, and get recommendations on how to save on your bill.

Visit your home's Energy Manager

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