Time to Put Energy Efficiency on Your Spring Cleaning List
It’s been a long, cold winter for most of us but spring is finally here! The most obvious change in how we use energy during the coldest months of the year is space heating, which may have led to some sticker shock on your energy bills. Besides reducing the heat in your home as the weather warms, there are many other simple things you can do to boost energy efficiency—starting with spring cleaning! Here are some easy steps to incorporate to your other seasonal fixes around the house, most of which require little more than cleaning, dusting or replacing a few low-cost items.
- During your normal cleaning routine, it’s easy to forget the areas we don’t see, like behind appliances. But behind items like your refrigerator, dust easily builds up on cooling coils, causing the refrigerator to run less efficiently. Get some help to pull the refrigerator away from the wall for an easy vacuum and dusting to help keep your fridge (and its energy consumption) in tip-top shape! Also, make sure the refrigerator door seal is clean and tight so cold air doesn’t leak out. If you have an older fridge, say 10 or 15 years old, consider replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR-certified model that will result in significant energy savings. You can save up from $200-$1,100 on energy costs over the lifetime of the fridge.
- Speaking of dusting, make sure to dust or wipe off light bulbs. A clean bulb provides much more light for your money! If you still have any incandescent bulbs, replace them with more efficient lights like CFLs or LEDs that use at least 75% less energy.
- After scrubbing your bathroom sink and shower, consider purchasing an energy-saving showerhead, faucet or flow restrictor. These gadgets will help save water, which also cuts down your energy bill by reducing the amount of water that needs to be heated.
- As you finally get to store away winter clothing and equipment, make a quick stop at your water heater. If you haven’t checked it before, it may be set at a default setting of around140°F. For most of us, however, 120°F should be sufficient for your water heating needs. And for every 10ºF you reduce the temperature, you can save around 3–5% on your water heating costs. (Learn more about lowering your water heating temperature from the Department of Energy.)
- Before you start letting the warmer fresh air in, check any sliding doors that lead outside to see whether the track is clean – a dirty track can ruin the door’s seal and create gaps where heat or cold air can escape.
- While you’re cleaning and moving things around, it’s a good time to unplug appliances like computers, TVs, DVD players and game consoles from the wall and reconnect them using a powerstrip. The powerstrip allows you to turn them on and off more easily when not in use and can save energy. By using a power strip, you can avoid “vampire power” – energy used when appliances are not in use but left plugged in – which can add up to an average of $200 in yearly energy costs.
For more energy- and money-saving tips to stay efficient throughout your home, all year round, visit At Home Tips