Miami is smack-dab in the middle of summer — and it’s not the hot-girl kind. Temperatures have hovered in the high 80s and low 90s for days, and the humidity makes it feel like the 100s. The forecast shows no sign of the mercury dipping any time soon.
On top of all that, Miamians are feeling the heat when the electric bill arrives every month, providing yet another reason to sweat — as if we need it.
Florida Power & Light (FPL) warned in May that power bills were going up this year by as much as 18 percent owing to pandemic-induced supply-chain disruptions, and while Miamians struggled to balance costs with air-conditioning needs, HVAC (heating , ventilation, and air-conditioning) professionals from around the world will descend upon the warm, moist Magic City to discuss the future of the industry.
July 20-21 brings the RefriAmericas conference to the Miami Airport Convention Center, where industry experts from Latin America, the Caribbean, and beyond will exchange ideas on how to implement more efficient cooling systems amid rising global temperatures.
“The HVAC industry is very aware of the changes happening in the climate from to human-made gases and activities, and we’re trying out best to remedy that on the domestic side,” Max Jaramillo, founder of Latin Press and organizer of RefriAmericas , tells New Times.
As the A/C experts put their heads together on how to keep the planet from overheating while keeping people cool, they have some tips for Miamians looking to beat the heat and not break the bank.
“Turning off your air conditioners during the day is not recommended,” Ernesto Porras, a mechanical engineer and HVAC consultant, tells New Times in Spanish. “With the humidity so high, if you turn it on at the end of the day, the job of recooling the house will take a lot of energy.”
Porras also recommends something that might seem obvious but that most people might ignore: maintenance.
“The most basic thing people can do is make sure their units are well maintained. Clean the fans and change the filters monthly,” Porras says.
Porras and Jaramillo agree that a dirty A/C unit will have to work almost twice as hard as a clean one to keep a house cool — and your electric bill will reflect that.
One less-intuitive tip Porras advocates is to turn off and unplug electrical appliances while they’re not in use. He says leaving a TV or computer screen on during the day will radiate heat, and though you probably won’t be able to fry an egg on either of them, they contribute to the overall temperature inside your home.
Other simple fixes include installing curtains to cover windows during the day to block sunlight and keeping your thermostat a few degrees higher than you normally would during the day so the A/C isn’t working overtime while the sun is out.
And, if you can afford it, both Porras and Jaramillo recommend installing newer A/C units if your house is running on old machinery.
“Units in the older apartments in Little Havana where I live are probably using twice as much energy,” Jaramillo says. “By investing in a more efficient, newer unit, which will cost money upfront, you could waste less energy in the long run and save.”