With inflation on the rise, energy savings should become a top priority

July 14 — With reports coming out yesterday saying inflation has risen to 9.1% in the United States, a number of government agencies are looking for ways to help people save energy.  

Alison Higgins, the Key West Sustainability Coordinator, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about energy costs. 

On the City’s Preserve Island Life Facebook page, the top ten return on investment energy savers were posted recently. 

Number one is a programmable thermostat. Air conditioning is typically 35% of home energy costs and that can be reduced about 20% by using a programmable thermostat. 

Higgins said, “But 70% of home owners that have one, don’t use them correctly. They don’t actually take the time to set the program and learn it, but it makes a really big difference because you don’t have to think about it.” 

If you have a window A/C, obviously you don’t really have a programmable thermostat there, but you should just be sure to be diligent and turn it down when you leave the house. 

If you have the ability to have a programmable thermostat, you can get a rebate from Keys Energy when you buy it. 

The second item on the list of energy savers is LEDs and compact florescent lightbulbs. Lighting is about 7% of most home energy costs. LEDs and compact florescent lightbulbs last 10 times as long, so you don’t have to change them out as frequently either. 

The third item on the list is a smart power strip. 

Higgins explained, “There’s a lot of things that use ghost power, so even when they’re not on, they’re waiting to hear for your remote control. So if you’ve got, especially in your home near your TV, there’s all the little pieces that are all plugged in. You can hit one switch, they’re all off until you come home and you’re ready to watch TV and you hit them and then they’re all on. So that can also reduce. The ROI on that is 120% because they don’t cost much.” 

Another one is the hot water heater blanket. The job of the blanket is to keep the hot water heater at a certain temperature throughout the day, so when you need hot water at that moment, you’ll have it immediately. It can save you about $30 a year. 

It could also help to check what the hot water heater thermostat is set at. Some homes have it set at 140 degrees, but most households only need 120 degrees. You can also get a programmable timer for your hot water heater, as well. If you know you’re gone for eight hours straight, you don’t need to keep the water hot when you’re not there. 

High efficiency shower heads can also help with reduction of energy costs because if you’re using less water, your’e heating less water. They can reduce energy bills by 40%. 

Sealing leaks in the house can also help reduce energy costs. 

Higgins said, “If you have central A/C, where are you losing the cold air that’s just up in your attic instead of getting to yourself.” 

Also take a look around your home and see if you need some weather stripping or to caulk the windows. 

If you’re looking for dishwashers, refrigerators or any appliance, look for ones that are energy savers. 

A water efficient toilet can also make a difference in your bills. 

The Keys Rebate Program also provides monetary help if you need to replace your A/C, or put in a duct-less A/C, or need duct-leak repairs, clothes washers, refrigerators, dishwashers, dehumidifiers, ceiling fans, or hot water heater timers. Keep in mind, appliances that you purchase need to be energy savers in order to get the rebates. 

There are also options for energy audits for your home, as well. 

The State Housing Initiatives Program can help with weatherization, too, and if you are a moderate-income family, you could qualify for potential weatherization measures. The phone number for that 305-292-4408. 

The City of Key West has also put a car free Key West section on the website that includes a calculator that lets you plug in how far you commute to work, the current price of gas, how many days you work and how many miles per gallon your car gets. 

It will calculate how much you spend for a month and weigh that against a monthly bus pass. 

Higgins said, “It’s going to work best for people that are commuting 15 minutes and above. If you’re traveling on US 1, you’re going to save a lot of money. It might be a little bit longer of a trip, but you’re not having to drive in traffic. You’re sitting back and playing on your phone, which you’re not allowed to do in your car.” 

Bikes are also another option for commuters, as well. 

The City is also looking to possibly add some electric cars to their fleet at some point. 

Higgins said, “The plan is we’re doing our research now, but one of the key things is it’s easier to not be the tip of the spear. Let a couple of other cities play with the technology and then you pick the one that works best for them. There’s a couple of other cities that are out there ahead of us and the intent is by budget season next year, we will have our full plan to roll out and start integrating that into our own fleet and parking lots for the public.” 

This fiscal year the City is changing out every, single lightbulb in the police department on North Roosevelt Blvd and that should pay for itself within a year. 

Sea level rise is another ongoing concern. The City got some grants to work on adaptation plans that will be a deep dive into different facets of what seal level rise and climate change will affect. 

It will include the water in the roads, the buildings and health and social services. 

The details will then be hashed out — with public input — and a 10-year budget to address the issues will be created. 

Higgins said, “It also really, really helps us get the grants because we’ve done the process to know that this is the most important thing for us.” 

For more information on any of the above discussion points, click here: www.cityofkeywest-fl.gov