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Sustainable home energy

in news/town square

As we become more aware of the impact of human action on the environment, we can– and should– have conversations about sustainability. One area where people can improve environmental sustainability is home energy. Coal and gas are well-established as main energy sources and continue to be the easiest to use. But  coal and gas deplete the earth of natural resources that can never be replaced. In the process of removing parts of the earth, we are destroying trees and soil— and our water and air quality in the process. Animals and plants are destroyed. Biodiversity is affected.

Solar power

Solar energy is an option for personal and societal improvement. Getting energy from a more sustainable resource like the sun, especially in sunny Florida, seems an obvious solution for those who care about the environment. So why doesn’t everyone use it? Solar energy is one of the best options for energy production, but consumers don’t always have a choice. The reasons are multiple and sometimes personal. Maybe your roof is old, or you don’t have the money, or you are renting. Maybe you have a beautiful 200-year-old grandfather oak tree shading your entire home. Whatever the reason, sometimes solar is not plausible for many of us. But we can participate in programs that encourage power companies to increase availability of solar power.

Duke Energy has a shared energy program that allows customers to purchase “blocks” of solar energy. The fee for the blocks is added to the monthly bill and enrollees get a bit of credit “based on the fixed solar annual average avoided energy price, which is subject to change.” For information on DUke’s renewable energy program: (866) 233-2290. If solar blocks aren’t in the budget, Pinellas residents can contact Duke between 7 am and 9 pm to share support for sun power at (727) 443-2641.


Consumers can also take advantage of energy company incentives. Duke Energy offers incentives such as:

  • Duct Test and Repair
  • Attic Insulation Upgrade
  • Heat Pump Replacement
  • Energy Efficient Windows

Contact Duke Energy for specific incentives currently available.

Tips for home energy conservation

If solar panels or solar block purchase aren’t options, using the least amount of nonrenewable energy sources is important. Simple actions will lower electric bills and reduce use of limited natural resources.

  • Turn off lights when you aren’t using them.
  • Set air conditioning to 78 degrees. Or set it about five degrees cooler than the outside temperature to rid the house of the humidity.
  • If it is nice outside, turn the air conditioning off and open those windows.
  • Install solar tint on windows. This is a heat barrier, deflecting direct sunlight.
  • Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees.
  • Be sure all windows and doors have good seals.
  • Check air conditioning for leaks. Don’t lose cold air to leaks!
  • Install an attic fan to lower the attic temperatures.
  • Add insulation to the attic to make sure cold air isn’t escaping.
  • Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when they are full.
  • Use LED lightbulbs.
  • If your power company offers an option to buy solar energy from them, do it.

Get audited!

Duke Energy offers a home energy audit. A trained inspector will do a simple inspection, analyze your home and bill and tell you where you could cut back on your energy consumption. They will look for leaks and check attic insulation and air conditioning Ducts. They can use a thermal camera to see if the attic or any doors or walls are leaky.  They even leave you with tips and an energy efficiency kit that includes low-pressure shower heads and faucet aerators and door and window seals. If you prefer, Duke will walk you through a home energy audit online or by phone.

Each of us can, in some way, participate in sustainable energy consumption– and even save some money while helping the planet!

Front yard gardens

in news/town square

Home gardeners have been tracking a particular bill through the Florida Legislature this session. Florida Sen. Robert Bradley (R.- District 5) introduced the SB 82 after a south Florida man was told to remove his front yard garden or incur daily fines. The Florida Senate passed SB 82 on March 21, 2019 and a related bill, HB 145 was approved by the House of Representatives on May 1st and awaits Gov. DeSantis’s signature.

Impact: This bill will affect folks who want to garden at home. Prior to this action, local governments could ban residents from growing food in their front yards.

Why should you and your neighbors garden?

  • Aesthetics: Gardens create a lovely and interesting-looking community. Gardeners design unique landscapes, often combining traditional landscaping concepts with a broad palette of color and diverse purpose.
  • Biodiversity: Home landscapes often seem to combine the same few plants over and over, but the yard of an avid gardener attracts attention. How? Successful gardeners know the importance of a thriving local ecosystem and include a wide variety of plants.
  • Pollinators: Have you read about bees and butterflies dying off and wondered how you can help? Gardeners know that their flowering fruit trees will not produce fruit without pollinators and so they learn to protect the insects that are part of our food supply chain. Gardeners create healthy ecosystems, planting flowers to attract pollinators.
  • Health: Gardening not only helps the environment, it also helps people. Gardeners benefit from the healthy food they produce– but the act of gardening is also exercise. Fresh food from local gardens is an opportunity for a healthier “you.”
  • Fun! Gardeners love to share. Sharing plants, flowers and food brings opportunity not only for learning, but also for connection and community. Consider joining local gardening groups, plant swaps and community gardens as a way to gain knowledge and make new friends.

Get started with home gardening

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