Thursday, March 15, 2012

Behavior and Habits

As a new empty-nester couple, our power and water (and grocery) bills have dropped substantially now that our kids have moved out of the house. I learned conservation from my father, who wouldn’t turn on the AC until he saw beads of sweat running down your forehead. While I’m not quite that extreme, I do take a “military shower”, as Dad referred to it. I turn the shower on to get wet, then turn it off to lather up, and then turn it back on to rinse. My shower water usage doesn’t exceed a minute; a fraction of time compared to our now absentee family members.

Behavior and attitude may have the most impact on our energy and water use.  While my habits help me save, there are some strategies to consider when building a new home that can help you conserve too.


  • Solar orientation, natural lighting and shading, take advantage of the seasonal arch of the sun, to provide light and heat when it’s wanted, and prevent excess heat gain when it’s not.
  • Zoning and programmable thermostats allow you to control the AC and heating in the areas of the house where you spend your time, effectively reducing the amount of living space that has to be conditioned.
  • Stand-alone dehumidification increases comfort at a set temperature without running the AC.  The saying, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”, was probably coined here in central Florida.
  • Lighting design and control can reduce the number and length of time electric lighting is needed, but still maintain security and convenience.
  • Operable windows can be oriented to catch breezes and exhaust heat, while still providing security and allowing use during rainy weather.
  • Native Florida landscaping that has adapted to the environment, requires less water and maintenance while adding to the beauty of the property.
  • A convenient location to line-dry clean laundry saves energy used by the dryer and extends the life of clothing and linens, all while adding a crisp, clean feel.


These are a some of the ideas that can greatly reduce energy and water use, plus there are also many other ways to reduce demand and increase efficiency with the design and construction of a new home.  Look for more posts on these subjects soon.  Keith Groninger