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Heating and Cooling

Air leakage is a major health and environmental problem for homes. It can contribute up to 30 percent of cooling and heating costs, create comfort and moisture problems, pull mold into buildings, and serve as an easy access for insects. There are many ways to reduce the amount of conditioned air that is lost, and at the same time decrease the amount of energy spent to heat and cool your home.

  • Air Leaks

    Check for air leaks around windows and doors. Make a draft-checker by taping a piece of tissue paper to a metal clothes hanger. On a windy day (while inside your home,) hold the draft-checker still at several places around the frames of windows and doors. If the paper moves, there is a leak. Carefully seal cracks by re-caulking or applying weather-stripping tape.

  • Programmable Thermostats

    You can schedule the time your HVAC system operates. Your home's programmable thermostat can store and repeat multiple daily settings. When the weather is warmer, raise the thermostat to 78°F. For every degree above 72°F, you could save five percent on cooling costs. When it's cooler outside, lower the thermostat to 68°F.

  • Passive Cooling

    Passive cooling is the process of cooling without mechanical means. The most effective way to cool your home is to keep the heat from entering in the first place. One method of passive cooling takes advantage of landscaping.

  • Windows

    Windows can account for 10 to 25 percent of your home's heating bill. During the summer, windows make the A/C work two to three times harder by letting in the sun's heat. There are measures you can take to reduce heat gain in your home:

    Install screens over all windows and doors so they can be left open for cross-ventilation.
    Add overhangs to the outside of windows to control the sun's direct radiation.
    Use exterior shading devices such as awnings and shutters, which block direct sunlight and can reduce heat gain by 65 percent.
    Install shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house. Lighter colors (especially white) work best.
    Close curtains on the windows during the day to reduce solar gain. Reflective coatings also cut glare and reduced fading of drapes and furniture.
    Apply sun-control or reflective films on south-facing windows to reduce solar gain.
    If you plan on replacing single-pane windows, consider energy efficient double-paned ones.

  • Roofing Materials

    Energy savings are strongly influenced by the solar reflectivity of the roofing materials. A recent study by Florida Power and Light showed that the whiter (and therefore more reflective) the roofing material, the lower a home's energy bill. White metal or cement tile roofs can reflect more than 70 percent of the sun's energy, and also have the ability to cool quickly at night. Instead of increasing the insulation of a roofing system, "white roofing" can be used to reduce cooling energy consumption by increasing the amount of heat that is reflected (instead of absorbed) by the roof of the house.

    When it's time to replace your roof, consider using high-reflective roofing materials or applying a light-colored coating (such as white latex) over an existing roof.

Original website content and design created by Mark Hostetler, Elizabeth Swiman, and Sarah Webb Miller. With the help of UF/IFAS Communications, the current look and functionality was streamlined for the UF/IFAS Extension Solutions for Your Life website. Al Williamson of UF/IFAS Communications uploads the steaming video for each episode. Images on this website were taken prior to national guidelines of face coverings and social distancing. The site is currently maintained and updated by Tom Barnash and Mark Hostetler.