Kathrin Ziegler/Stone/Getty images
As spring rolls in, it is time to perform seasonal maintenance around your home. Throughout the winter, snow, ice, and strong winds could have impacted your home’s energy efficiency.
Having an energy-efficient home ensures you consume less electricity and in return, helps you lower your power bills. Use this checklist to help you prepare for the warm months ahead and save energy this spring.
Understanding where you are using the most electricity in your home can make it easier to know how you can reduce your energy consumption. The SaveOnEnergy usage calculator makes it simple to estimate how much electricity you use every month and shows the appliances and devices that consume the most energy in your home.
The average home spends about 12% of its total energy usage on air conditioning. Clutter and debris can affect your air conditioning unit’s efficiency, meaning it has to work harder to keep your home cool. Clear away leaves from inside or around the unit and dust, vacuum, or spray the condenser fins to remove remaining dirt and debris. You should also replace the air filter inside your house and schedule a yearly HVAC inspection with a licensed professional.
Cracking ice, downed tree limbs, and the weight of heavy snow could have dislodged shingles or siding on your home. This can create small gaps that let outside air, bugs, and small creatures inside and temperature-controlled air escape. You can often fix minor issues yourself, but should contact a professional for major repairs.
Similar to your roof and siding, harsh winter weather could have damaged the seals around your doors and windows. These gaps can let cool air sneak outside, impacting your home’s overall energy efficiency. Check to make sure you don’t see or feel any cracks. If you do, use a caulking gun to fill them.
The spring months often bring varying temperatures. Some days might be warm while others are below freezing. You can turn off the heat and open the doors and windows when the temperature warms up. Not only will this help you lower your heating costs, it also allows your home to air out any built-up pollutants or humidity.
In the winter, your ceiling fans should rotate clockwise on low speed to distribute the rising warm air around the room. In the spring and summer, the fan should turn counterclockwise to force air down into the room to help keep you cool.
Warmer weather means more dust, pollen, and pet hair will collect on the coils of your refrigerator and make the refrigerator work less efficiently. A long-handled brush is perfect for dusting and cleaning coils on the bottom or back of the refrigerator.
You may have set indoor or outdoor lights on a timer so they are lit when you get home in the evenings. Now that the afternoons are getting longer, you may want to reset your lights for later or turn the timer off altogether. Only using your lights when you need them will bring down your total energy usage.
Cooking outdoors is a great way to keep your kitchen cool, so pull out your grill from the garage and give it a good clean. If it’s a gas grill, make sure you have a full tank and check the lines for any holes or cracks.
As the warm weather returns, it could be time to lower your water heater temperature. According to the Department of Energy, your hot water heater could cost you more than $400 annually. Turning down the temperature by 20 degrees could bring that cost down and will not have a big impact on how hot your water feels. What’s more, it will also mean your water heater won’t need to work as long and will use less electricity.
Caitlin Ritchie is a writer and editor within the energy industry, specializing in deregulation, energy efficiency, and solar power. Her writing and research have been cited by Snopes, The Washington Post, The American Solar Energy Society, and other major sources. Find more of Caitlin’s work at ChooseEnergy.com.