Hello, Gainesville homeowners! Welcome to the 'Stay Indoors' edition of Gainesville living. Are you feeling the heat? With summer in full swing, it's time to explore your energy-saving options and transform your home into a cool oasis while getting those utility bills in check.

As a Florida-based real estate team, we're here to share some valuable tips and ideas that will help you transform your Gainesville abode into an energy-efficient haven. From insulation upgrades and HVAC system improvements to harnessing the power of the Florida sun, we've got all the information you need!

Insulate and Chill

When you'd rather turn your home into a cozy pink igloo than brave the broiling Florida sun. | Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

When you think of insulation, you might envision a cozy pink blanket that keeps your home warm during the winter months. However, insulation plays a crucial role in keeping the cool air inside during summer and preventing unwanted heat from seeping in. That’s why ensuring proper insulation in your attic, walls, and floors is essential. 

Insulation tends to settle and thin over time, becoming less effective. Refreshing your insulation means it takes less energy to keep your home cool. It’s a cost-effective home improvement that pays off in greater comfort and lower summer electric bills.

If you live in an area served by Duke Energy, like High Springs, and you own a single family home, Duke will give you a rebate on your attic insulation upgrade. Additionally, GRU offers free energy efficiency upgrades to insulation for low and moderate income homeowners who qualify

HVAC Heroes: Upgrade Your System and Regularly Change the Filters 

Your trusty HVAC system works hard to keep you cool when the summer heat tries to sneak its way in. But is it up to the task? 

Consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient model that will save you both money and stress. Look for units with high SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings, smart thermostats, and zoning capabilities to cool specific areas of your home. Switching to a high-efficiency air conditioner can reduce your energy use by 20% to 50%, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and could net you a federal tax break of 30% of the cost (up to $600).

Regularly changing your HVAC system's air filter is also crucial. Replace the filter once every two months during the hot months and once every three months for the rest of the year. Dust and dander build-up strains the system, causing it to draw more power to compensate. Neglecting to change those filters regularly reduces energy efficiency, leading to higher energy bills. 

GRU offers free replacement or servicing of inefficient HVAC systems to qualifying low to moderate income homeowners

Landscaping for Shade: Outdoor Enhancements 

On a hot Florida day, the temperature under trees can be as much as 25°F cooler than nearby blacktop | Photo by Thirsty Turf Irrigation on Unsplash

Creating natural shade around your property is an elegant way to maximize your home's energy efficiency. While trees and shrubs take time to grow, they offer long-term benefits. 

Strategically planted trees and shrubs provide relief from the intense Florida sun by reflecting the heat that would otherwise reach your home. The shade and water vapor produced by trees and other landscaping elements can lower the surrounding temperature by as much as 6° F, according to the Department of Energy.

Shade trees not only keep your interiors cooler but also allow you to enjoy your outdoor space more. Cool air settles near the ground, making the area directly under trees as much as 25°F cooler than nearby blacktop.

While we’re on the subject of outdoor spaces, we invite you to take a brief detour to consider the benefits of transforming your lawn into a beautiful sprinkler-free – and cost-efficient – landscape.


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Window Wonders: Treatments and Upgrades

Windows are your home's eyes to the world, but they can also be major energy wasters. Upgrade to energy-efficient windows that are designed to block heat and UV rays while keeping the cool air inside.

Duke Energy’s window replacement program offers homeowners who make upgrades a rebate of $2 per square foot of window area (up to $400) on east, west and south-facing windows.

You can also reduce the need for air-conditioning by installing window treatments such as blinds, shades, or curtains to further enhance your home's insulation and reduce heat gain during the sunny days.

Let the Sun Shine: Solar Panels

A Gainesville homeowner embraces solar power. | Photo by Bill Mead on Unsplash

Installing solar panels is a great long-term investment in energy efficiency. By generating your own electricity, you can keep your home comfortably cool while lowering your electric bills over time. It’s also a fantastic way to reduce your carbon footprint.

With the region boasting an average of 64% sunlight per day and a 9.7-year solar payback period, Gainesville is an ideal location for going solar. Numerous solar incentives are available to homeowners in the Gainesville area, offered by state agencies and power companies, making solar energy an attractive option.

GRU offers a net metering program, where customers who install photovoltaic (PV) systems for their home can connect with the GRU grid and receive credit for the surplus solar energy they produce. 

Here are a few more available incentives:

Florida Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs

Financing for renewable energy upgrades, determined locally
Property Tax Abatement for Renewable Energy Property Residential: 100% of the added value
Lakeland Electric - Residential Energy Efficiency Loan Program

$5000 loan
Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

30% federal tax credit for systems placed in service after 12/31/2021 and before 01/01/2033. Good for: solar water heat, solar photovoltaics, biomass, geothermal heat pumps, wind (small), fuel cells using renewable fuels.

Final Thoughts

As a savvy homeowner in Gainesville, you have the power to make your home more energy-efficient and beat the summer heat. By implementing these tips and ideas, from harnessing solar power to upgrading insulation and HVAC systems, you'll create a comfortable and sustainable sanctuary while saving money on your utility bills. So, embrace the sunshine, unleash your inner energy-saving superhero, and enjoy a refreshingly cool home all summer long!

Remember, Rabell is here to assist you with all your real estate needs. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or require professional guidance on buying an energy-efficient home. Stay cool and keep your energy bills in check!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice. Always consult with qualified professionals for personalized recommendations based on your specific circumstances.