On Tuesday, July 5, Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart confirmed that rumors on the street were true regarding Madison County Sheriff’s Deputies arresting Doug Smith of Madison as part of Phase II of a drug sweep. Smith was booked on five separate charges, involving possession of methamphetamine and sell of methamphetamine. A press release will be issued on Wednesday, July 6.
Archive for July 2011
Pinetta Makes “A;” Lee Makes “AYP;” Central and Greenville Get DBy Jacob Bembry
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The school grades released Thursday, June 30, by the Florida Department of Education contained a mixed bag of blessings for Madison County.
On the up side of the grade scale, Pinetta Elementary School received another “A” and Lee Elementary School once again met Adequate Yearly Progress (ayp).
School Superintendent Lou Miller said that a low percentage making learning gains in math at Lee Elementary School caused it to receive a “B” instead of an “A.” She said that, with the size of Lee Elementary, that a low score by only a couple of students could have prevented the school from earning the coveted “A” grade.
Madison County Central and Greenville Elementary School both received “D” grades.
Eighty-five percent of students at Pinetta Elementary School met high standards in reading while 78 percent met high standards in math; 85 percent met high standards in writing; and 42 percent met high standards in science.
Eighty-eight percent of the students made learning gains in reading and 62 percent made learning gains in math.
Ninety-one percent of students at Lee Elementary School met high standards in reading while 84 percent met high standards in math; 77 percent met high standards in writing; and 61 percent met high standards in science.
Seventy-seven percent of the students made learning gains in reading and 46 percent made learning gains in math.
Fifty-eight percent of students at Greenville Elementary School met high standards n reading while 67 percent met high standards in math; 54 percent met high standards in writing; and 30 percent met high standards in science. Fifty percent of the students made learning gains in reading and 48 percent made learning gains in math.
Forty-five percent of combined students from different grades at the Central School met high standards in reading while 37 percent met high standards in math; 61 percent met high standards in writing; and 20 percent met high standards in science. Sixty-six percent of the students made learning gains in reading and 59 percent made learning gains in math.
The grade has yet to be released for Madison County High School.
Submitted by Sheriff Ben Stewart
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office has received several complaints this week regarding telephone solicitations. The Majority of these complaints have been concerning calls from the Fraternal Order of Police, better known as FOP. As Sheriff of Madison County I wanted to advise our citizens that the Sheriff’s Office has not and will not authorize telephone solicitations from any organization. These most recent complaints included FOP solicitors advising that they purchase equipment for the Sheriff’s Office and Madison Police Department as well as help local children. The FOP does not assist the Sheriff’s Office or Police Department with anything nor does it help local children.
Most importantly, as Sheriff I will continue to advise our citizens to never, never, never give any credit card, bank account information, or personal information to anyone that calls you on the telephone. If you are interested in obtaining information from a caller then ask them to send you information in the mail. The only time that I would advise you to give any information over the phone is when you have initiated the call and you know for sure who you are speaking with.
Finally, fraud and identification theft are the fastest growing crimes in America, telephone solicitations are major players in these crimes. The Madison County Sheriff’s Office supports the Florida Sheriff’s Boy’s Ranch and The Florida Sheriff’s Association. Solicitations from these organizations will only be received in the mail and they will have my signature on them. Any other solicitations that name the Madison County Sheriff’s Office are not authorized.
Ben Stewart – Sheriff of Madison County
Joe Boyles – Guest Columnist
On Monday, July 4th, we celebrated America’s Independence Day, literally the birth date of our nation. What happened 235 years ago to create our rift with Great Britain and set in motion a new concept for a new nation? It is an interesting story.
The Colonists beef with the mother country had to do with taxes which they felt were unwarrantly levied. How could Parliament tax their subjects in the new world when they weren’t represented? The phrase, “no taxation without representation” resounded as angry subjects called for secession at public gatherings.
As fighting broke out, the citizens of the 13 colonies were divided on the issue of independence. About one-third favored independence while another third opposed it. The remaining third sat on the fence. Across the Atlantic, England’s King George III and his Parliament reacted forcefully against the rebellion. Many new troops and a naval flotilla set out for America to put down the anarchy.
In Philadelphia, the Second Continental Congress convened to debate the legal position of the colonies. Three of the top-tier Founding Fathers – Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson – were in attendance and debated the fate of the new nation. Each played an important role. John Adams, the influential lawyer from Braintree, Massachusetts was one of the principal debaters. Through the late winter and spring, the debates carried on. There was no rush to judgment; these delegates understood full well the gravity of their actions. Slowly, most but not all of the doubters were assured that independence was the proper course of action.
An important concept for these delegates was the idea of Federalism that they represented the will of their individual state governments. The mid-Atlantic colonies were particularly hard to bring aboard. They looked to Pennsylvania, their most populous member for guidance. Here, Benjamin Franklin would play a key role.
Following the adoption of a preamble for independence on May 15, Virginia’s Richard Henry Lee offered a resolution on June 7th that read: “Resolved, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.” The Rubicon had been crossed.
Lee’s resolution was not met with universal acclaim; again, the mid-Atlantic states were holdouts. Slowly but surely, the delegates from these states began to receive positive signals from their respective state governments that the resolution had their support.
A Committee of Five (John Adams of Massachusetts; Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut) was appointed to draft the formal resolution. The committee agreed on an outline and turned to their youngest member, Jefferson to write the draft.
The brilliant Jefferson, then just 33 years old, wrote a masterful work which included perhaps the most brilliant and important phrase in the English language: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness …” The draft was presented to Congress and the debate renewed.
By July 2nd, all of the state delegations were onboard and the crucial vote was taken. The draft was adopted. To his dying day 50 years later, John Adams swore this was the true date of independence. The next day was spent amending the draft to its present form. On July 4th, the final draft was approved by a second vote and became the Declaration of Independence. It was not signed that day. The clerk had to transcribe several copies of the final declaration. Signing the final document would happen throughout the rest of the summer.
And thus, a nation was born, unlike any other nation heretofore. Before that, nations “belonged” to kings, dictators and the privileged few. This would be, as Lincoln said eight decades late, “a nation of the people, by the people and for the people.” Liberty and independence were the watchwords for the next seven years as a fledgling America struggled for independence from the most powerful nation on earth.
I often refer to the Declaration of Independence as America’s birth certificate. It was a huge and revolutionary move. The 55 signers pledged their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor” when they affixed their name. It was and is a great moment, not only for our nation, but for freedom across the globe. Today, we still are “a bright shining city on a hill” for freedom-loving peoples everywhere. Happy birthday America!
By David Abercrombie,
The hospital provides about $3,000,000 each year in uncompensated care. These are patient charges, not the actual cost to the hospital. Uncompensated care includes various sub-categories such as charity care, the amount of our actual expense not covered by Medicaid… and about $2,000,000 in indigent care charges. The actual cost to the hospital to provide this care is roughly 75% of these charges. The subject of this article is just this indigent care portion.
You might think an indigent hospital patient is simply a person who cannot –or won’t- pay for his or her healthcare services at the hospital. But actually, to be classified as indigent a patient must meet strict State of Florida’s qualifying criteria. It works like this: If a patient comes to the hospital needing healthcare but has no resources to pay for the care, then a financial counselor determines if the patient might qualify for the County indigent care benefit. If so, the patient is asked to complete an application documenting how he or she meets the State of Florida criteria. The criterion the patient must meet includes information on total household income and the number of persons in the family. The only exception to this is if the patient is an emergency, then care is provided before any financial questions are asked. Federal law mandates this.
The hospital provides the care and a bill is generated. The bill, along with required indigent qualifying documentation, is given by the hospital to the County. The County reviews the information and confirms that the patient indeed meets State criteria. If the patient does, and if there is any money in the County’s indigent care fund, then the patient’s bill is paid. If there is no money left in the fund, the hospital isn’t paid.
If a patient meeting the above criteria is classified as indigent and receives care at Madison’s hospital, but is later transferred to another hospital for further treatment, the Madison hospital still gives a bill to the County for payment of the services it provided while the patient was in Madison. It is my understanding that the out-of-county hospital will send a bill to our County too. Our county pays these out-of-the county hospitals an annual total of approximately $35,000 a year for their services to Madison’s indigent patients. Fifty percent of the current fund of about $70,000 annually goes to Madison County’s hospital and 50% of it goes to pay bills from out-of-county hospitals.
On June 29th, the Madison County Commission began the first steps to increase the fund to pay indigent healthcare claims from Madison County Memorial Hospital (MCMH) up $250,000 from its current level of about $35,000 to $285,000 ($35,000 + $250,000) a year. However, if the fund is increased, none of this additional money will be paid to out-of-county hospitals. I think that level will likely still stay at about the $35,000 mark, but that is for the County to determine.
Money received from the County in payment for indigent care will be paid to MCMH on a “one patient-by-one patient” basis. The hospital will not receive a big single or monthly check, for “indigent care.” Each claim must stand alone and make its own case for meeting State of Florida criteria.
MCMH spends about $1,750,000 a year in actual expense to provide care to indigent citizens. This money comes directly out of the hospital’s cash register (operating fund). When the hospital is reimbursed the current $35,000 a year, or the proposed additional $250,000 a year for these services, this money goes (and will continue to go) right back into the hospital’s cash register, just like a payment for services from any other payment source. It will be spent on such operational expenses as food for patients, pharmaceuticals, utilities, et cetera. It is important that everyone understand that even putting $285,000 a year toward the crushing total expense of providing care to indigent citizens, the problem continues. This is will not make it go away.
If the County’s indigent healthcare fund is in fact increased, MCMH will still continue to carry alone the annual actual expense burden of about $1,465,000 for additional indigent healthcare. Again, these are not charges to the patient; this is the actual approximate expense to the hospital.
Madison County is a beautiful place. The canopy trees on Shrine Club Road and the big oaks scattered all around the county never fail to make my heart beat a bit faster. But the fact is that Madison is a poor county and poverty isn’t beautiful. It’s awful. Whether we’re talking about how poverty affects our County’s healthcare or how it affects education, or any other integral part of the lives of its people, we can’t bury our heads in the sand and say that it is someone else’s problem, or that the hospital, or the school system, or the churches handle “that.” The upkeep on poverty is expensive and you and I own it.
Sarene M. Collins, age 54, passed away July 1, 2011 in Tallahassee.
A memorial service will be held Thursday, July 7, 2011, at 5 p.m. at the Mays House, 925 E. Washington Street, Monticello, Florida 32344.
Donations may be made to the Jefferson County Humane Society, Mamie Scott Drive, Monticello, Florida 32344.
Mrs. Collins was a native of Miami Beach and had lived in Cooper City before moving to Jefferson County in 1998. She was the Office Manager at Collins Law Firm and was of the Jewish faith.
Mrs. Collins is survived by her husband, David Collins, of Monticello; her son, Chuck Collins, his wife, Natalie and their son, Ryan, of Tallahassee; her daughter, Lisa Collins of Washington, D.C.; her mother, Cordelia Marks of Jensen Beach; her brother, Michael Marks, and his wife, Sally, of Plant City, Florida; her sister, Wendy Johnson, and her husband Paul, of Boothbay, Maine.
She was a devoted mom, loving wife, aunt, grandma and friend to many.
Beulah Landrum Lucas, age 85, Jasper, FL. passed away June 28, 2011 at South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta, GA. She was born in Bluffton, Georgia on July 22, 1925 to the late Ben and Mittie Barefield Landrum. Mrs. Lucas was a homemaker and member of Calvary Baptist Church in Lake Park, Ga. She was preceded in death by a son, Lynn Grogan.
Survivors include her husband of 47 years, Davis Lucas, Jasper, FL.; one daughter, Jeanie Hill, Jasper, FL.; five grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.
Funeral services were held Friday, July 1, 2011 at Calvary Baptist Church in Lake Park, Ga. Interment followed in Evergreen Cemetery, Jasper.
Harry T. Reid Funeral Home, Jasper, FL. was in charge of arrangements.
Gloria H. Thompson, age 86, a retired school teacher from the Jefferson County School Board passed away June 29, 2011 in Tallahassee, Florida.
Funeral services were held Saturday, July 2, 2011, at 11 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 325 W. Walnut Street, Monticello, Florida 32344. The family received friends Friday July 1, 2011, from 6:-8 p.m. at Beggs Funeral Home, Monticello Chapel, 485 East Dogwood Street, Monticello, Florida 32344. Interment will follow the service at Roseland Cemetery. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Robert M. Hendry Memorial Church, c/o Judy Steen, P. O. Box 604, Shady Grove, Florida 32357.
Mrs. Thompson was a native of Madison County and had lived in Taylor County before moving to Monticello in 1951. She was a past member of the United Daughters of Confederacy, and was a graduate of Florida State College for Women, Mrs. Thompson also worked at Braswell’s Department store in Monticello. She was of Methodist faith and a member of the First United Methodist Church in Monticello.
Mrs. Thompson is survived by two daughters, Gwen Thompson Beat (James “Cy”) of Aucilla, Florida and Margaret “Marty” Dalton (David) of Moultrie, Georgia; six grandchildren; and 13 great grandchildren.
Special from ECB Publishing, Inc.
The Jefferson County Warriors semi-pro football team squashed the Emerald Coast Scorpions, 26-0, June 25 to now stand on an undefeated 4-0 season.
As the Warrior defense held strong holding the Scorpions well away from the goal line, as the offense continued chalking up points for the team.
Jefferson didn’t score in the first quarter; they raked in 13 points in the second quarter; brought in another seven points in the third quarter; and finished up with an additional six points in the fourth quarter for additional frosting on the gridiron cake.
Deion Graham served as the team quarterback for the entire game. He had 10 pass completions out of 17 attempts for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
The Warrior running backs had a total of 29 carries for 132 yards, two fumbles and four touchdowns.
Nicholas Freeman had three carries for 10 yards.
Deion Graham had five carries for 24 yards and one touchdown.
Tony Sims had five carries for 10 yards and one touchdown.
Montray Crumity had eight carries for 73 yards, one fumble and one touchdown.
Jarvis Davis had three attempted carries with no yardage gained.
Damisi Scott had three carries for 12 yards ands one fumble.
Montreal Biggins had one carry for three yards and one touchdown.
Dixon Daveon had one attempted carry for no additional yardage.
For the wide receivers of Jefferson, they collected nine pass receptions for 139 yards.
Bruce Thomas had three pass receptions for 36 yards.
Ranardrick Phillips had one pass reception 40 yards.
Henry Washington had one reception for eight yards.
Jitavian Bennett had four pass receptions for 55 yards.
Brandon Robinson had three punts and averaged 46 yards per punt.
For Warrior punt returns, Jeffery Williams chalked up three returns for 26 yards.
The lone kickoff return for the Warriors came from Phillips, who had one punt return for 25 yards.
On the defensive side of the field, Tommy Jackson had one tackle and two assists.
Jeffery Williams had one tackle.
Phillips had one tackle and two assists.
Terrell Harrell had two tackles and one assist.
Kendrick Thomas had three tackles, two assists and two quarterback sacks.
Justin Lovett had one tackle and two assists.
Laddie Fead had four tackles and two assists.
Bay Lee had two tackles, one assist and one pass interception.
Jason Harville had four tackles and two assists.
Markel Andrew had one tackle, two assists and one blocked punt.
Bryant Gant had two tackles, three assists, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one quarterback sack.
Jermaine Collins had five tackles, three assists and one fumble recovery for a 45-yard return.
Clyde Beatty had two tackles and one assist.
Montray Crumity was named as the offensive player of the week and Jermaine Collins was named the defensive player of the week.
The Warriors were off July 2; they face off against the South Georgia Noles, 7 p.m., July 9, there; they are off July 16; action continues against the Florida Rhinos, 7 p.m., July 23, away; Emerald Coast Scorpions, 7 p.m., July 30, away; they are off August 6; action continues against Florida Falcons, 7 p.m., August 13, away; and in the final game of the regular season the Warriors face off against the South Georgia Noles, 7:30 p.m., here.
Tickets for the home games are $7 each
By Kristin Finney
Greene Publishing, Inc.
After having a stroke, breaking a bone or being confined to a hospital bed for days on end, people often lose much of their independence, mobility and motor skills. The therapy team at Lake Park of Madison is helping these people overcome limitations and beat the odds.
Lake Park of Madison offers all three types of therapy: physical, occupational and speech. Isaac Newman is the lead physical therapist. His assistant is Jennifer Brown. Bart Alford is the Speech and Language Pathologist. Traci. S. Money is the Occupational Therapist. Her assistant is Felica Brown, a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).
Newman has 12 years of experience; Money has over 20; Alford has 16; Jennifer Brown has six; and Felica Brown has 10 years. Though all of their experience has not been received at Lake Park of Madison, the therapists use their skills to help the patients as if they have known them their entire lives.
“We want everyone here to feel like a family. We try to individualize and personalize all of the training. We want everyone to feel at home and to feel comfortable. Whether they are here long-term or short-term, we want them to feel like family. We try to help everyone get to their highest level of independence before they leave us,” explained Isaac Newman.
While their caseload fluctuates around 25 people, they are willing to help as many people as they can who need them. In order to qualify you must have a Physician Order. The therapy team works with both inpatient and outpatient patients, for long-term or short-term. They accept most insurance such as Medicare and private insurances, as well as others.
The team works with all ages, from teenagers to geriatrics and all in-between. They help with patients who have suffered from stokes, neurological diseases, joint replacements, fractures or other illnesses. “Out job is to improve and restore loss of function in the patients,” explained Traci S. Money.
The occupational and physical therapists work on basic strength training, range of motion improvement, balance retraining, splinting, manual therapies such as deep tissue massages and many other things.
Bart Alford, the speech therapist works with the patients to train them on feeding adaptive equipment, cognitive training, communication skills, swallowing and other skills. This is especially important for patients who have suffered strokes or other speech and throat debilitating issues.
Kathleen Higley, one of the patients in therapy at Lake Park of Madison, said of the team, “They are very encouraging and very helpful.”
Lake Park of Madison is very happy to offer short-term rehab, in addition to long-term rehab. They hope to be able to help each individual in that individuals desired amount of time. Of course most training depends on the amount of progress made and support received. “If a person comes in here saying they want to be done in three weeks, then that is our goal,” explained Money.
When asked why he entered this field, Bart Alford responded, “I enjoy working with all ages. This field allows you to work with everyone from children to adults.”
Isaac Newman responded to the same question with, “I like being able to make a difference in people’s lives. I enjoy being able to help them.”
The Florida Department of Health (DOH), the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and Florida’s Regional Drug Enforcement Strike Forces are today visiting physicians’ offices across the state to ensure compliance with House Bill 7095, Florida’s new prescription drug law. The administrative inspections are being conducted pursuant to the declaration of a public health emergency on July 1.
Since the bill was signed into law on June 3, DOH has been actively notifying physicians no longer authorized to dispense selected controlled substances to dispose of their inventory. Physicians must return the drugs to wholesalers or turn them over to law enforcement for destruction before they become contraband on Aug. 1. The inspections are designed to remove the drugs quickly and safely and minimize the chance they will be dispensed into local communities.
During the inspections, the physician may: 1) surrender the substances for destruction; or 2) surrender them to law enforcement to be quarantined while the physician determines if they can be returned to the wholesaler; or 3) request that the substances be quarantined at the location of the clinic or practice. The role of the Strike Forces in the inspections is to safeguard and secure the drugs, either on-site or at a law enforcement agency. The drugs quarantined will either be destroyed or returned to wholesalers.
A total of 23 physicians in 24 locations statewide are being inspected, with the bulk of visits occurring in south Florida. The locations visited include general practitioners, anesthesiologists, and internists. The list of locations includes practitioners identified due to past purchasing and dispensing levels.
Today’s inspections are part of Florida’s comprehensive and multi-faceted plan to address an epidemic of prescription drug abuse. House Bill 7095 increases penalties for overprescribing Oxycodone and other controlled substances, requires tracking of the wholesale distribution of certain controlled substances and provides support for the continued efforts of state agencies, law enforcement and state prosecutors. The bill also bans doctors from dispensing selected controlled drugs except under specific circumstances. In March 2011, Governor Scott announced a Statewide Drug Strike Force, headed by FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey, to combat the criminal distribution of prescription drugs in Florida. With support from Attorney General Pam Bondi and state and local law enforcement leaders, the Strike Force is charged with stopping the flow of dangerous drugs into communities by disrupting the major illegal supply points.
On July 1, in accordance with House Bill 7095, State Surgeon General, Dr. Frank Farmer issued a statewide public health emergency declaration in response to the ongoing problem of prescription drug abuse and diversion in Florida. The declaration requires dispensing practitioners who are no longer authorized to dispense controlled substances in listed in Schedule II and Schedule III of Section 893.03, Florida Statutes, to dispose of any inventory and cooperate fully with DOH, FDLE and local law enforcement personnel. The declaration will remain in effect for 60 days unless amended or rescinded, or renewed with the concurrence of the Governor.
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Before the recent rains brought some relief from the weeks-long drought and daily triple-digit temperatures, stepping from a cool, air-conditioned interior space into the blue-white heat of midday was enough to take a person’s breath away. Part of it was almost certainly from the shock of being hit in the face with a blast from a furnace, but there may have also been thoughts of outrageous utility bills skittering around in the minds of many.
Staying cool is especially important to seniors, who are more prone to heat stress and dehydration in extreme summer weather. Avoiding heat-related health issues means drinking plenty of water, of course, and staying out of the extreme heat as much as possible during the hottest part of the day. That usually means staying indoors or somewhere with air conditioning.
The same advice is good for people of any age, but when economic times are tough, people worry about utility bills.
Seniors in particularly are likely to be living on fixed incomes, and higher utility bills can be a big worry.
However, there are steps people can take to bring their utility bills down, and a little net surfing will bring them a plethora of tips for cutting energy costs.
But how well do all those cost-cutting tips work?
Tri-County Electric Cooperative, serving Madison County residents, has an interactive website (www.tcec.com/ click on “Together We Save”) where homeowners can take a virtual tour of a typical home for a “self-energy audit.” Going from room to room, they can try things like adding insulation or switching out old appliances for new Energy Star models to see if they think the estimated savings over time would be worth the upfront expense. Or they can see what something as simple and cost-free as turning off light switches and closing window blinds could save.
Keith Ruff of Tri-County says that the most frequent problems he sees in the Madison area are faulty heating and cooling units and poorly insulated homes, especially older mobile homes. “The rent may be cheaper, but the energy bill will be almost doubled,” he said. He encourages customers to go to the website and do the self-energy audit, and if they still have questions, call Tri-County Customer Service at 973-2285. A member service representative can answer any questions and also take requests for an on-site energy audit.
“I know times are tough and money’s tight,” said Ruff. “But we’re here to help our members.”
Progress Energy, serving residents in the municipalities of Greenville, Madison and Lee, also offers home energy audits to its customers and provides a customized report based on their findings. Also, customers who take the home energy audits are then eligible for a number of incentives in the form of rebates to correct some of the problems, such as attic insulation or insulated windows.
To visit the home energy audit website, go to progress-energy.com/save and access the home energy check. Just make sure you are in Florida section rather than the Carolinas, because the programs are a little different for each area.
Suzanne Grant of Progress Energy said that the three highest energy users in the typical home are the cooling system, the hot water heater, and the refrigerator; often minor changes to these three will show savings. “Air conditioning is usually about a third of your energy cost and every degree below 78 adds about 10 percent to this part of your bill,” said Grant. Also, using ceiling fans enhances the cool feeling. “Just turn the fans off when you leave the room.”
When it comes to the hot water heater, setting the thermostat at 120 degrees results in significant savings because many people have their water heater set significantly higher.
As for the refrigerator, something as simple as keeping the coils vacuumed will make a difference. “I have a cat so I find that I have to do it every week,” said Grant. Something else she learned from Progress Energy was that full refrigerators and freezers operate more efficiently. If people don’t keep that much food in their fridges, filling Tupperware containers with water and putting them in the fridge with help retain the cold and save energy.
Another thing she learned from her grandmother, who grew up without air-conditioning, was cooking outside on the grill during the summer, and preparing cold suppers during the summer, such as sandwiches and salads or anything that was good served cold.
Tips for lowering energy costs in the summer:
WINDOW UNIT AC
If you already have one:
• Change the filter every month.
• Keep furniture, drapes and other obstructions out of the airflow path
• Use ceiling or box fans to better circulate the cool air and try raising the thermostat five degrees. Turn the fans off when you leave the room. They don’t make the room cooler, they just make it feel cooler.
If buying one:
• Bigger is not better. Buy the size that fits the room, allowing for how many windows it has and whether it faces north, south, etc. A unit that it too big for the room will have to work harder to achieve the same cool ‘feeling’ and cost you more, because it will cool the air and cycle off before it has removed all the humidity. Homeowners end up dialing the thermostat even lower to dry the air out to a comfortable level.
• Look for a SEER number (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) of at least 11. More efficient units are more expensive to buy, but in hot climates they will pay for themselves over the years with lower utility bills.
CENTRAL AIR/HVAC SYSTEM
If you already have one:
• Have your HVAC system professionally inspected at the beginning of each cooling season. Make sure the duct seals are all airtight. In eight out of 10 houses in the South, leaking air ducts waste more energy than any other problem, and can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 20 percent.
• Make sure all ductwork is insulated.
• Make sure your condenser unit outside has plenty of room to disperse the heat it removes from your house. Don’t crowd it with shrubs, outdoor garbage cans, etc.
• Try to make sure your air conditioning condenser unit has some shade – the air it pulls into your house will be cooler to start with and will require less energy to cool. If it has no shade, plant two or three fast-growing shade trees a few yards from your unit.
• Close off rooms not being used and close the vents to those rooms.
If buying a system:
• Make sure the SEER number (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is 13 or better. (14 in warmer climates like ours.)
• If you have an old system with a SEER rating of eight or lower, think about replacing the old system. You should be able to recoup the cost in just a few years.
For more information about energy audits and other energy saving tips, contact Progress Energy at 800-700-8744, or visit their website, www.progress-energy.com.
LIGHT BULBS: About 10 percent of the average utility bill comes from lighting. So does quite a bit of incidental household heat that the air-conditioning system has to dispose of.• Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). They use much less energy and most will last long enough to pay for themselves twice. If you don’t want to replace all your bulbs at once, start with just the lights you use the most often and replace the others as they burn out.
• Go to lower wattage bulbs. A 30-watt bulb will use half the electricity of a 60-watt.
• If you use tube fluorescent lights anywhere in your home, use electronic ballasts rather than conventional magnetic ballasts. Electronic ballasts use 40 percent less energy, are flicker-free, and eliminate the hum.
• Turn the lights off every time you leave a room.
• Keep lamps and other heat producers away from your thermostat. They’ll make your AC run longer and work harder.
• Set the thermostat for 85 or higher before you leave for work, and turn it back to 78 when you return. Install a programmable thermostat and you won’t have to worry about forgetting to change the settings.
• Wrap your hot water heater. Insulating water heater jackets can be bought at most home improvement stores for $10-$15, and you can install them yourself.
MISCELLANEOUS HEAT PRODUCERS/REDUCERS:
• Keep blinds closed and curtains drawn during the heat of the day and on the sunny side of the house (South and West)
• Computers and other office equipment generate heat as well, even when they’re in stand-by mode. If they’re plugged into a wall outlet, the AC adaptors on the power cords still use electricity, even when the equipment has been switched off (you can feel the warmth of the adaptor when you pick it up in your hand). Use a power strip for your computer/office equipment – turn everything off at once with the flip of a switch rather than unplugging each component individually.
• Gadgets like cell phone chargers, rechargeable dust busters, gaming consoles, wireless routers, cable boxes, DVD/CD players and microwaves use some power when in standby mode (standby power for appliances not in use typically accounts for 5 -10 percent of residential energy use). Unplug them when not in use, or plug groups of electronics into a power strip and turn everything off with the flip of a switch.
• Television sets with instant power-on capability also still use power when you turn them off with the remote. Once they’re turned off, they go into standby mode, using up to 50 watts of energy while waiting for the remote to signal them to turn on again. Unplug them or use a power strip to make it easier to really turn them off.
LONG-TERM HEAT REDUCERS:
• About 30 percent of the heat in your house comes through the roof. Check the insulation in your attic.
• Plant fast growing shade trees on the south and west sides of the house.
• Install awnings over windows, especially on the south and west sides.
• Use weather-stripping around all windows and exterior doors.