Relationships turn up heat on energy bills

FPL/Harris Interactive

Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) has unveiled new information that might reveal why your home suddenly got hotter (or colder).

A September survey of more than 1,500 Florida adults conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of FPL revealed that among those who share their home with a spouse or partner, 49 percent – or nearly one out of every two people – admit to changing the thermostat setting without their partner’s knowledge. When confronted, the top reasons they used to excuse themselves include:

  • Pretending they didn’t know how the thermostat changed (36 percent)
  • Blaming someone else (12 percent)
  • Saying the thermostat must have mechanical problems (12 percent)
  • Claiming the thermostat must have been bumped (9 percent)
  • Blaming the dog or cat (3 percent)

“These survey results highlight the reality that most people in Florida would rather be comfortable, even if they don’t want to admit it and may end up spending more money on energy in the process,” said Marlene Santos, vice president of customer service at FPL.

When asked to choose, nearly half of Florida adults (47 percent) said being comfortable is most important to them, after saving money (44 percent). Only 9 percent consider saving energy to be most important to them.

“Ideally, we’d like to help customers find the best balance of comfort and savings,” Santos said.

FPL released the results of the statewide study as a way to inform FPL customers about the different energy-saving programs that are available to them.

Because more than half (59 percent) of Florida adults prefer to keep the temperature on their thermostat low, it stands to reason that only one-third or nearly one out of every three Florida adults described themselves as completely or very energy efficient (32 percent), with only 4 percent having said they are completely energy efficient. A large majority said they are somewhat or not at all energy-efficient (68 percent).

“FPL is committed to helping customers understand what can drive their bills up or down and offers energy-saving tools to help them make more informed energy choices,” Santos said. “The apparent thermostat wars in people’s homes are a hidden force to be reckoned with since air conditioning is the largest user of energy in Florida homes.”

To help customers call a truce, Santos recommends they start by taking the Online Home Energy Survey. With it, they receive a personalized energy-savings plan with expert tips and recommendations that can help them change how they use energy and save up to $250 a year in energy costs.

FPL’s Energy Dashboard is another online tool that helps customers become more aware of their own energy use patterns. It allows customers to see how much energy they’re using by the month, day or hour.

“Information is power. FPL’s Energy Dashboard can help you see where the spikes in energy use are,” Santos said, “but we can’t tell you how the thermostat got lowered. That’s between you and your partner.”


  • Among Florida adults who live with at least one other person in their home, 43 percent strongly/somewhat agree that there is a thermostat war in their house, with 15 percent strongly agreeing with this statement.
    • Females might be the ultimate culprits; 45 percent of women in Florida would rather have control of the thermostat than the television remote (36 percent).
    • 59 percent of Florida adults keep the temperature on their thermostat “low.” Reasons include: so they can put on heavy blankets (18 percent), so they can snuggle close with their loved one (16 percent), to avoid arguments with their spouse (15 percent), to keep their pets comfortable (13 percent), and “other” (20 percent).
  • Only 34 percent of Floridians with air conditioning change the air filter once a month or more, the recommended frequency for the air conditioning unit’s maximum efficiency.
    • 45 percent change it every 2-6 months
    • 7 percent change it every 7-12 months
    • 1 percent change it less than once a year
    • 2 percent never change the filter in their air conditioner

This Florida Energy Use survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of rbb Public Relations between Sept. 12-20, 2013, among 1,586 residents of Florida 18 or older, 930 of whom are married or live with a partner. Oversamples also were obtained of the following counties: Brevard, Broward, Collier, Lee, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Sarasota and Volusia. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Click here for complete survey methodology, including weighting variables 

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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