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Spring clean for energy efficiency  Smart Choices Archive

Spring clean for energy efficiency

Image: NRECA

Energy Efficiency

After your home has been closed up through the winter, it’s time to fling open the windows, sweep out the dust bunnies and haul away accumulated debris.

In addition to sweeping, swiping and swishing out the grime, spring is an excellent time to clean up your act to ensure energy efficiency. For example:

  • Clean the coils on your fridge so it will run more efficiently. At the same time, check your seal by closing a dollar bill in the door. If you can pull it out easily, your seal may need to be replaced.

  • Dust lightbulbs. Dirty bulbs don’t shine as brightly. If some of your bulbs are old incandescents or CFLs, replace them with LEDs rather than clean the old ones.

  • Schedule air conditioner maintenance so your unit will work at its peak during the heat of the summer. The basics are covered in this ENERGY STAR list, and don’t forget that you should replace the filters about once a month for the most efficient operation of your unit. Tip: Date the filter when you change it so you know when it's time to replace it again.

  • Wash the windows, inside and out, to allow more daylight to shine in. That way, you can rely more on natural light and less on lamps. When attending to your windows, consider how windows and the coverings you choose can help save energy year-round. Opening windows on nice days can provide ventilation, while sun-blocking drapes or blinds can prevent the sun from overheating your home on hot summer days and opening the drapes/blinds on winter days can allow the sun to provide warmth when needed.

  • Clean the air return vents and make sure that drapes and furniture are not blocking the vents.

  • After scrubbing your tub and shower, install a low-flow showerhead in each to cut water flow and the amount of hot water heating necessary. Adjusting the thermostat to a lower set temperature can save energy, too.

  • After dusting ceiling fan blades, change the direction on them for the summer, allowing warm air to be pulled upward. This provides a bit of cooling and may allow you to keep the air conditioner turned off. Just remember to turn off the fan when you leave a room as the cooling provided only helps when you are in the room.

  • Clean or replace the filters in bathroom and kitchen fans, and other filters, too. Consider installing a timer on the bathroom fan so it doesn’t run longer than necessary. And don’t forget to check filters on whole-house air filters, in-fridge water dispensers and your vacuum system, too.

  • Brush dirt and grime out of the tracks for your sliding glass door. A dirty track can ruin the seal, creating gaps for air infiltration.

  • When clearing out clutter, clothing and no-longer-used items, donate whenever possible and recycle anything else you can.

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