Technology for the Win

I’m always looking for ways to save my family money. Fortunately, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is always looking for ways to help their customers save money. We live in a wonderful age where technology has integrated itself into our lives. As it turns out, this technology can help us save money.

FPL has launched a new skill on Amazon Alexa to help turn customers into energy experts. Customers can connect with FPL through the skill and get tips to save energy and money – all with the power of their voice.

To get started, customers can enable the skill from the Alexa Skill store. Then say “Alexa, open FPL” to open the skill and then can ask questions like, “How can I lower my energy bill?”

Alexa is built into the new ecobee4 smart thermostat, another great tool customers can use to take control of their energy usage and bill. Cooling can account for more than half of your energy bill. With smart thermostats, customers can manage their energy usage like an expert – like controlling the A/C from their smart phone.

Through Oct. 31, customers who take FPL’s free Online Home Energy Survey are automatically entered to win weekly prizes, including the ecobee4 smart thermostat, as well as the grand prize – a $10,000 Smart Home Energy Makeover. Learn more at

Alexa isn’t the only way FPL is helping its customers save money. Did you know they have a blog where you can Ask The Expert? You can ask any energy related question you want and one of their experts will answer your question.

This is an amazing resource. Recently a customer asked what appliances should they turn off or adjust if they were leaving on a 2 week vacation. Here is what the expert had to say:

  • Air conditioner – Your air conditioner can account for over 50% of your energy usage. Ensure you adjust the thermostat settings so you aren’t cooling an empty house when you’re away. Make sure you leave your A/C on, with the fan switch in the “auto” mode and set the thermostat to 82 degrees or higher.
  • Pool pump –If you have a pool, your pool pump can be the second biggest energy user. You can reduce your pool pump’s run time while you are away to save energy. We suggest you run your pool pump four hours per day in the winter, and six hours per day in the summer. If you have a multi-speed pump be sure to talk to a certified or registered pool contractor on how to set it while you are away.
  • Water heater – A traditional, tank-style electric water heater keeps your water hot day and night so it’s available when you need it. If you’re not going to be home, you’ll save energy by turning it off. See howto look for your tank’s on/off switch. If you’re going to be away for an extended period and don’t have an on/off switch, you may want to turn off the circuit breaker to the hot water heater.
  • Lighting is the fourth largest energy user for homeowners. But many of you are already taking steps to reduce the cost of lighting your home by swapping out older bulbs for more energy-efficient options like CFLs and LEDs. Learn more by viewing my previous blogs on Lighting can be the fourth largest energy user for home owners. Make sure to turn off your lights when you leave for vacation and consider using automatic timers.

Did you know some appliances use energy even when they are off?
We suggest turning off or even unplugging appliances and other items that use energy even when they’re in off- or idle-mode. Look for items that have always-on digital clocks or other displays, these can be energy stealers. Below is a list of some of the best appliances to turn off or unplug while you’re away:

  • Home entertainment equipment, including video game consoles, set-top boxes (DVRs), and other TV-related devices –Just two of these boxes can equal the energy use of a refrigerator, and that can cause your bill to increase. So, unplugging these items could lead to a savings of a few dollars a month.
  • Desktop computers, monitors, and other computer equipment –This includes those pesky charging devices. Many of us have multiple devices – phone, tablet, laptop – and even multiple people using them. Did you know that the average cost of charging these devices is coming in at about $15/year? It’s definitely worth unplugging the chargers when you’re not home.
  • Home stereo equipmentlike AV receivers, stereos, and speakers left plugged in or turned on when not is use can add a few extra dollars to your bill.
  • Electronic kitchen appliances such as coffee makers, microwaves, or small refrigerators –Some devices, like toasters or stand mixers, don’t draw any energy unless they’re being used, so there’s really no need to unplug them.
  • Miscellaneous devices, alarm clocks and nightlightsdraw relatively little power (just a couple watts), so although it’s still beneficial to unplug or turn them off if possible, they may not be high-priority devices. With that said, every penny counts!

Technologies that can automatically turn off your electronics 
For many customers, it’s also worth considering options that can automatically turn off electronics whenever they aren’t being used (not just when you leave for vacation). The two most prominent options for doing this include using advanced power strips or smart plugs:

  • Advanced power strip(which commonly use current-sensing technology, occupancy sensors, or timers) present one option to address unnecessary power draw.
  • Smart plug is an Internet-connected outlet that provides data on energy consumption though a mobile app, lets users set up on/off schedules through a centralized web portal, and (in some cases) allows for control of connected devices through an Amazon Echo or Google Home.

Lastly, safety and security – while saving on your monthly energy bill is important, safety and security are even more important. Be sure to give your home that lived-in look while you’re away by installing a motion detector light or using a timer on an indoor light.

Thank you to FPL for sponsoring this post.

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