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Spring Cleaning That Will Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency (Part 1 of 2)April 13th, 2015 by
Spring is finally in the air, and many homeowners consider it the ideal season to thoroughly clean their homes, a process fondly—or resentfully—referred to as spring cleaning. While a spick-and-span home is certainly refreshing after all the chaos of the holiday season, your home’s appearance isn’t the only thing that can benefit from spring cleaning. This year, why not take your spring cleaning one step further and strive to make your home more energy efficient as well? The following spring home maintenance checklist won’t add too much effort to your regular spring cleaning, but it will help your family keep costs down throughout the summer months.
The best time to get your heating and cooling system checked is when the seasons change, so now is the time to schedule your spring maintenance visit. You want to make sure your system is running at its most efficient to keep cooling costs as low as possible. The easiest thing most homeowners can do to help accomplish this is change their HVAC filters regularly. If you don’t know how, your heating and cooling specialist would probably be more than happy to show you. Typical fiberglass filters should be changed every month, but some filters are designed to last longer.
It is also fairly simple to check the drainage hole if your system has one; it is usually underneath the evaporator fins. Your air conditioner will not function as well as it should if the drain hole is clogged, so use a wire, a small bottle-cleaning brush, or even a paper clip to clear it of any debris that would prevent water from draining properly.
A buildup of dust and dirt can keep ceiling fans from running smoothly as well as require more energy to move them, so dust off all the ceiling fan blades throughout your home. Also, be sure to reverse the direction of your fans every spring and fall—you want them to turn counterclockwise when it’s warm and clockwise when it’s cool. The airflow caused by the fan’s counterclockwise motion will make the room feel cooler, and the clockwise motion will push warm air down so you and your family stay warm.
When was the last time you cleaned under and behind your kitchen appliances? There’s no better time than when you’re spring cleaning! A good place to start is your refrigerator. Unplug it and determine where the condenser coils are on your particular model; they’ll either be on the back of the fridge or behind the grill under the door. These coils help cool the refrigerant that runs through your fridge and keeps the temperature low. When they’re covered with dust, dirt, and pet fur, it is more difficult for the condenser coils to release the heat necessary to cool the refrigerant before it reaches the condenser, making it work much harder than it should to get the refrigerant to a temperature that is low enough to keep your food cold.
Clean out your dryer vent, or hire a professional to do so—allowing lint and other matter to collect there can result in house fires, at the worst, and it interferes with your machine’s drying ability. Also, consider drying your clothes, or at least heavy linens like comforters, outdoors on a clothesline. You should probably stick to the dryer when pollen levels are at their peak, but in addition to saving energy and money, hanging your clothes and bedding outside to dry will infuse the fabric with that wonderful springtime smell.
Take off all the faucet heads and handles in your home to clean them and all their parts as thoroughly as possible, since mold, mildew, and rust can prevent efficient water flow. Also, make sure the flappers in your toilets are undamaged and sealing properly, and if necessary, replace them before they start leaking. Consider installing low-flow showerheads and faucets to cut down on water costs, too.
Because you’re already cleaning everything so thoroughly, spring cleaning is the perfect time to clean up all the places where a buildup of dirt and dust may be causing your house to run on more energy than necessary. Check back later this week for more spring maintenance tips for your home that will help increase the energy efficiency of your outdoor space.
Sources: AARP; Alliance to Save Energy; Energy Star; The Family Handyman; HGTV; Ruralite Magazine.
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