Florida Power and Light offering free home upgrades to help reduce utility bills

·3 min read

Milton resident Janis Jones' electricity bill more than tripled from $97 to $200 to $400 early this year.

Recently, her bill has started to come down, but after she spoke with Florida Power & Light a few weeks ago, the utility enrolled her in a new program to help keep her electricity bill low.

"When you've got grandkids and the power bill goes up that much in a month and they're used to saying, 'Mom, mom, can you go out the store and get this? Can you go to the store and get that?' and you say you can't because the power bill is so high, I mean it not only hurts them, it hurts you," Jones said.

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Florida Power & Light conducts an inspection at a home as part of its Community Energy Saver Program in Milton on Thursday.
Florida Power & Light conducts an inspection at a home as part of its Community Energy Saver Program in Milton on Thursday.

On Thursday, Jones became one of the first homeowners in Northwest Florida to receive a "home makeover" as part of FPL's Community Energy Saver Program.

The Community Energy Saver Program offers homeowners upgrades to help lower their power and water bills, free of charge. Customers can also call Gulf Power to get personalized insight on how to reduce their energy consumption.

An FPL team helped Jones by installing weather stripping around her doors and windows, checking her air conditioning unit to clean and replace filters and replacing light fixtures with LED bulbs rather than incandescent or fluorescent ones. They also installed low-flow shower heads to help reduce her water bill.

External Affairs Manager Steve Rhodes, who assisted Jones in figuring out ways to lower her bills and usage, suggests residents be mindful of every degree that the temperature goes up or down in their home, because as power usage increases, so does cost.

He also suggested that customer invest in upgrades like heat pumps, an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners.

Larry Sanders with Honeywell inspects the heating and air conditioning system Thursday at Janis Jones' home as part of FPL's Community Energy Saver Program.
Larry Sanders with Honeywell inspects the heating and air conditioning system Thursday at Janis Jones' home as part of FPL's Community Energy Saver Program.

"It's not an inexpensive endeavor, but over the course of time, it's definitely a cost savings to run a heat pump over conventional heat," Rhodes said.

FPL merged with Gulf Power in January and has experienced significant criticism from many residents and local governments regarding customers who have seen substantial increases in their power bills.

Sarah Gatewood, communications manager at Florida Power and Light FPL, has previously told the News Journal that FPL remains committed to making the cost of energy to its Northwest Florida customers more affordable over time and that the company "remain(s) committed to helping customers find ways to save energy and money on their electric bills, while connecting those in financial need with available resources."

Gatewood, speaking to the Community Energy Saver Program on Thursday, said even if residents don't want to take part on the program, FPL can still find ways to help them save money with low-cost upgrades.

"It's critical that we do what we can to help our customers manage their energy usage and identify ways to save, and so this is a great way to partner those together not only be able to talk to them about their usage patterns, but also some of those small things that they can do," Gatewood said.

If someone is not comfortable with crews in their home, they can call in and they can see where energy is being used the most in their home and get suggestions on lowering their costs.

Larry Sanders with Honeywell, right, goes over paperwork with Janis Jones after completing his inspection as part of FPL's Community Energy Saver Program at her home in Milton on Thursday.
Larry Sanders with Honeywell, right, goes over paperwork with Janis Jones after completing his inspection as part of FPL's Community Energy Saver Program at her home in Milton on Thursday.

Jones said she was thankful for the program and recommends it to others since it is helping her relieve the stress of figuring out how to pay her bills.

"People don't realize that if you live on a fixed income, you have to figure out, 'Am I going to be able to do this this month, or do that this month,' and it causes a lot of problems," Jones said.

People can call 855-801-6192 to schedule an appointment with the Community Energy Saver team to have free energy-saving products installed in their home.

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Free FPL Community Energy Saver Program helps cut water, power bills