Special to South Florida Times

This summer, many South Florida homeowners and businesses have been paying hefty monthly electricity bills because of the heat. But there are ways to keep costs down while remaining cool.

All it takes are some basic cost-effective adjustments in the way you use your air-conditioning system and how you decide to use your electric power.
The Cooperative Feeding Program in Fort Lauderdale, which provides food, counseling and job placement assistance for needy families in Broward County, learned that Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) offered a free Business Energy Evaluation program in which FPL experts would go to a business and determine how the company could reduce its monthly electricity bill. The nonprofit contacted FPL for help to pare down its $2,000 a month bill.

Joe Mello, FPL’s regional manager in the small/medium business division, said the utility partnered with local businesses to give Cooperative Feeding Program a free energy makeover, as part of FPL’s NEMO (Nonprofit Energy Make Over) program.

FPL arrived at the nonprofit on June 16 and, thanks to work and contributions of area businesses such as Superior Lighting Company, AA Advanced Air, and AYA Solutions, old light bulbs were replaced with energy efficient ones, an energy efficient programmable thermostat was installed to better regulate the use of the air-conditioner and a white reflective roof surface was put on the top of the building.

“Most roofs have the old style, dark-colored roofs where the sun’s heat bakes into the surface, thereby requiring the air-conditioner to work harder to keep the building cool,” said Mello. The white reflective roof surface that was installed prevents a great deal of the heat from being absorbed, he said.

Mello explained that the contractor, using a temperature gun, measured the half of the roof with the new reflective surface to 86 degrees, while the old, dark surface registered a whopping 125 degrees.

“As a result of all of these improvements, Cooperative Feeding program should see a reduction of their FPL bill,” said, Mello.

FPL said this week it was still too early to determine how much Cooperative Feeding Program would save from the upgrades. But the utility is expecting that within the next 12 months, the nonprofit would have saved $3,000 on its electric bill.

Homeowners can see lower monthly electric bills, as well, by taking similar steps, said Sarah Marmion, FPL’s Corporate Communications spokeswoman.

Many of the energy efficient upgrades that homeowners implement, such as installing new air-conditioning units or programmable thermostats, in many cases could qualify for FPL rebates, Marion said. She suggests homeowners call FPL’s customer service number for more information or to schedule a free home evaluation.

Homeowners may also log on to FPL’s website to take the utility’s free energy evaluation for households and to learn what energy efficient upgrades offer rebates, she said.