The Sunshine State isn’t known for cold weather. Even in winter, the average high temperatures hover around the 70’s. Yet every so often, Jack Frost blows a little wintry air our way, sending us scrambling for the thick socks and dusty parkas tucked away in the shadows of our closets. Whether you welcome or despise the cool air, one thing is certain: Florida homes are not well equipped for the cold.
So besides layering on blankets and clothing, sipping hot beverages, and hiking up the thermostat, how else can you keep warm at home during a cold snap? The following are several ideas to help you stay cozy.
Keep the warm air inside.
When the outdoor temperature drops, you want to prevent the cold air from coming inside. But even with your windows and doors closed, the chill can still seep in through gaps and cracks. Single-pane windows, common in Florida homes, also allow heat to escape and cold to infiltrate.
Seal Up Drafty Doors and Windows:
- Use caulk to seal up small gaps or cracks in the window frame. Plus, you can insulate the glass itself by applying a layer of special window film. Bubble wrap is a low-cost, temporary alternative to window film, as long as you don’t need to see outside (and don’t care how it looks).
- Exchange thin window treatments for thermal curtains to block out the cold. During the day, open all of the curtains on the south side of your home during to let the sun shine in. Then, close the curtains tightly after dusk to seal in the warmth.
- Add or replace weatherstripping on both windows and doors. Apply these specially-made strips of rubber to the edges of your doors and windows to enforce a tighter seal.
- For particularly drafty doors, use draft stoppers. These look like long, narrow pillows that lie flush against the base of the door to close large gaps. If you’re crafty, you can turn this into a fun DIY project. Take an old sock or some fabric, fill it with a material like rice, dried beans or sand and sew up the ends. (These can make good gifts, too.)
- Consider replacing your single-pane windows with double- or triple-pane energy saving windows. Upgrading your windows may cost a premium, but it has the potential to save you money on your electric bill all year round.
Many of the above ideas are also be helpful in the summer months. When you’re running the AC, good insulation keeps valuable cooled air from escaping and prevents heat gain from the sun.
Flex your culinary skills.
Using the oven is an easy (and delicious) way to warm up your home. This is the perfect excuse to try out the casserole and cookie recipes you’ve been craving all summer when it was too hot to turn on the oven. As an energy efficient alternative to the oven, use small appliances like slow cookers where possible. These devices can still add a little warmth to your home, but they use far less electricity than the oven.
It’s important to note that we don’t recommend using the oven, or any appliance, as if it were a space heater. Keeping the oven turned on when you’re not cooking or baking is both dangerous and a waste of electricity.
Only heat the rooms you use.
If you spend most of your time in one room, it makes sense to heat just that area. If you’re one of the few privileged Floridians with a fireplace, by all means use that. For the rest of us, using an electric space heater might be more efficient than turning on your central heating system. This depends, of course, on factors like the size of the room and the efficiency of the heater itself.
Space heaters can be a safety concern, though. Every year, these appliances cause over 25,000 residential fires. There are some common-sense precautions you should take, like keeping it away from flammable objects, supervising children and pets around it, and switching it off before you leave the room or go to sleep. Also, only use newer models as these are more likely to have up-to-date safety features. Be sure to read and follow the operating instructions.
Ductless Heat Pumps
In lieu of a space heater, consider a ductless heat pump. Ductless systems have two main components – an indoor unit connected to an outdoor unit. Each indoor unit heats (or cools) a single room and installation is only minimally invasive. Not only are these units very energy efficient and safe to operate, but they can also be used as air conditioners in the summer. (More about heat pumps below.)
Spread the warmth.
Make the warm air in your home go farther by reversing your ceiling fan to turn clockwise during chilly weather. This will drive heat down from the ceiling and circulate it throughout your living space.
Keep your toes toasty.
The tile or hardwood floors in many Florida homes are great for keeping your home cooler in the summer. But hard flooring can result in chilly toes when the temperatures drop. Put down rugs in high-traffic areas to protect your tootsies from the frigid floor. And don’t forget to don a cozy pair of slippers.
Use central heat efficiently.
Many Florida homes have an electric heating system like a furnace or an air conditioner with a heat strip. If used frequently, those heating systems can cost a lot to operate. In fact, heating your home with one of those methods can be far more expensive than cooling your home in the summer. You might even decide to hold off turning on the heat for fear of an electric bill spike.
Thankfully, there is a better option. When it comes to central heating systems, a heat pump is the most energy efficient choice for a Florida home.
Upgrade to a Heat Pump
Heat pumps function like air conditioners in reverse, pulling warmth from the outdoor air and circulating it through your home. Because heat pumps transfer or “recycle” heat rather than creating it, they use about 50% less electricity than a heat strip (which functions similarly to a blow dryer or a toaster). Plus, heat pumps operate most efficiently in temperatures over 30 degrees Fahrenheit, making them a good fit for Florida’s mild climate. But, heat pumps do carry a higher equipment cost than standard air conditioners with heat strips. So, you’ll want to be sure that you plan on using the heat often enough to make the initial price tag worthwhile. There are, however, new Federal Tax Credits that could make your heat pump investment more affordable. You could qualify for 30% of the project cost, up to $2,000*!
Maximize Your Heating System’s Efficiency
Aside from upgrading to a heat pump, there are a couple of things you can do to make your current heating system as efficient as possible. First, have your system regularly maintained by a professional and be sure to change the AC filter. Also, if you don’t have a programmable thermostat, we recommend investing in one. You can program it to make the temperature cooler or warmer at certain times of the day—for instance, when you’re away at work or sleeping. Scheduled temperature adjustments can help you save money on your electric bill.
Florida may be known for warmth and sunshine, but as residents know, not every day is balmy beach weather. We hope these tips will come in handy the next time the temperatures dip.
Interested in a heat pump? Get a free, no obligation quote.
If you live in Sarasota County or Charlotte County, you can request a free estimate by filling out the form below or calling us at (941) 474-3691. We will be glad to answer all your questions.
Kobie Complete Heating & Cooling provides air conditioning and heating services in Englewood, North Port, Venice, Punta Gorda and the surrounding areas. As “Your Complete Comfort Specialists”, we are dedicated to keeping your home comfortable year-round.
Updated: December 6, 2023
*DISLCAIMER: The tax credit information contained within this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for expert advice from a professional tax/financial planner or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Kobie Complete does not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. For the most updated information on the federal tax credits, visit energystar.gov