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It is time for citizens to get involved. And it is past times for our governmental bodies to get involved. Learn as much as you can about these issues. Urge your city, county, Florida, and national leadership to do their jobs, and prepare society for the kind of changes we are facing.

Floridians spend more than 4 billion dollars on energy each year.
Here are some ways to save money without spending a fortune...

Upgrade to modern windows. Super windows, filled with argon or krypton gas and covered with a special film, are up to 12 times more efficient than regular windows. Yet they still look like normal glass.
These windows, which are widely available, buffer noise and prevent ultraviolet light from fading carpets, upholstery, drapes and art. They also cut down on drafts caused by ordinary windows.

A window rated R-7 or better -- meaning the window has seven times the insulating value of a single pane of glass -- will gain more heat in the winter than it loses, even when it faces north, and conversely will retain interior cooling even when facing south.
Check the web or Yellow Pages under "Windows."
Cost: 15% to 50% more than regular double-pane windows. They can pay for themselves in less than a decade, and some utility companies offer rebates. Average price for a standard-sized superwindow: $175.
Install Thermal barrier window film as an alterntive. For a cost of roughly $1 to 2.00 a square foot, treated adhesive film will limit infra-red, UV1 and UV2 solar radiation. More expensive films also incorporate tear resistance which reinforce windows during windstorms, and provide extra security.

Install heat barriers. In hot climates, a radiant barrier placed above attic insulation can reduce cooling costs by up to 15%. This plastic film has an aluminum coating on one side that reflects heat from the sun and can save up to $80 a year. Cost: 10 cents to 45 cents per square foot installed. A heat barrier pays for itself in as little as 10 years in the average Florida home.

Repair heating/cooling systems. Air escaping from ducts can reduce heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) efficiency by up to 20%. Sealing the seams can save $300 of a typical household's annual $1,400 energy bill.
Hire an HVAC contractor to seal your ducts for $500 to $900. Or do it yourself if the ducts are accessible in the attic or crawl space. Check your ducts every 10 years. Use mastic, a high-strength adhesive that is applied with a trowel or brush. Cost: $10 to $15 per gallon. A typical house might require five gallons. Mastic is available at home-improvement stores and heating-supply wholesalers.
Beware: Duct tape, despite its name, does not effectively seal ducts. Over time, it dries out and loses its seal.

Hint: Replacing your HVAC system's filter every other month can increase efficiency -- saving up to $50 a year.

Repair caulking and weather stripping. Every year, about $13 billion worth of energy escapes through holes and cracks in heated and air-conditioned US homes. A one-eighth-inch gap under a door is the equivalent of a two-inch- square hole in a wall.

Plugging air leaks around windows and doors reduces heating/cooling bills by as much as 30% -- or up to $500 a year on the average home. The job should take less than 10 minutes per door or window. Check for new leaks every five years. Cost: Less than $5 per window and $10 per door in materials.
Block conduits. As part of your weatherization project, install rubber gaskets behind electrical outlets to stop hot and cold air from escaping. Cost: Less than $1 per gasket, available in home-improvement and hardware stores.
Fill insulation gaps. As homes age, insulation settles and sags, creating gaps behind walls and in attics. You can spot these gaps with infrared cameras, loaned out by many utility companies. Some utilities also will perform a free energy audit for you.
Cans of expanding foam insulation are available for about $5 each and pay for themselves in just a few months. If you can't reach the problem area easily, call a professional. Sometimes he/she has to inject insulating foam inside your walls.

Insulate your water heater. This saves about $50 a year if you have an electric water heater... $15 a year for a gas one. Cost: About $20 for a tank wrap. Call your energy provider for details.

On Demand hot water heating is becoming a more viable option as prices decrease and reliability and efficiency increase.

Watch "Click & Clack, the tappet brothers" of NPR's Car Talk discuss future green transportation on April 22 on PBS. Click picture for a preview.

For more information, contact the
Tampa Bay Post Carbon Council
9654 W. Linebaugh Ave. PMB#110
Tampa, Florida 33626

                             Or, E-mail us Here.


More energy-saving opportunities are cost effective when you build or buy a house...

Select a smart design. The shape and orientation of your house can cut heating/cooling costs by 30%.
Buildings in Florida’s climate should be long and run perpendicular to the prevailing winds to increase ventilation.
Build with generous insulation. I suggest twice the insulation factor that is required by code. One way to do this is by using structural insulated panels (SIPs). The panels consist of a layer of insulation sandwiched between two layers of strand board. They can save 40% to 60% in heating/cooling costs.
Homes built with SIP walls are sturdier than most timber-frame houses. The energy savings can pay for the additional 10% in construction costs within 10 years. In addition, the initial cost can be offset because you will need a much smaller HVAC system.
Don't be impressed by the phrase "built to code." Code is the minimum standard allowed by law. If a builder says a home's insulation "meets code," he/she is saying that if it was any worse, it would be illegal.
Instead, ask how the house compares with federal Energy Star guidelines or if there is a state energy rating system. Click on "Improve the Efficiency of Your Home" at www.energystar.gov to compare your house with the Energy Star criteria.

Look for Energy Star-certified homes to save 30% on energy. This government program evaluates the energy efficiency of appliances and certifies houses when builders or developers request the service. Such homes use about 30% less energy, a savings of about $500 a year in an average house. They don't cost any more than typical houses, but they use insulation, insulated windows, architectural layout and other techniques to achieve the savings.

Bonus: Reduced mortgage rates and fees are available from some lenders for these homes. For more information, click on the "Find Local Home Builders" section of Energy Star's Web site, www.energystar.gov.

Consider your commute. Even the most energy-efficient home won't reduce your total energy bill if it's miles from your work, favorite stores and entertainment. Money saved on electricity and cooling/heating will be spent on gasoline.
For example: If a couple adds 25 miles each way to both of their daily commutes, they add about $4,000 to their annual gasoline bill, assuming their vehicles get 25 miles per gallon and gasoline costs $4.00 per gallon. That is more than the average family spends on home energy in a year.
Best move: Live near your job in a town that is conducive to walking.

And last, but hardly least, install your own independent solar power generation. In the Tampa Bay area, with present technological development, other forms of alternative power generation are not anywhere near Solar in efficiency.

John Gambill at Hotwire Solar will be glad to talk about such matters to anyone or group. See his company website here.
We plan to add a complete list of bay area alternative energy providers to this list soon.

J. P.