8 tips for saving energy this spring during COVID-19 lockdowns

March 23, 2020   By Jackie Whetzel

8 tips for saving energy this spring during COVID-19 lockdowns

Spring is in the air.  In warmer climates such as Texas, this means colorful flowers will soon start blooming and the outdoor temperature will inevitably rise.

While air conditioning can be hard to avoid on hot spring days, there are many ways homes can be energy-efficient during this temperate season. Read on to learn our eight simple tips to save energy this spring. These tips can be particularly important during COVID-19 lockdowns, when many Texas residential users are using more power.

Service your air conditioner

When you start making your annual spring-cleaning to-do list, you might want to put servicing your air conditioner at the top of the list. An air conditioner tune-up can reduce your energy bill by about 15 percent, according to the Department of Energy. Air conditioners, like most appliances, should get an annual maintenance check to be utilized optimally.

You should make it a routine to replace air conditioning filters, check refrigerant levels and clean evaporator coils just before you start ramping up their usage each year. If this is a job you’re not comfortable doing, a certified HVAC technician can ensure your unit is operating efficiently and using as little energy as possible.

Open the windows

One simple way to reduce energy consumption this spring is to open the windows and cool your home down the environmentally friendly way. Spring is the ideal time of year to turn the HVAC system off and enjoy some energy savings.

Make it a habit of opening the windows in the evening and closing them the next morning just before the temperature starts rising. Open windows can create a cross breeze which is a great cooling option when temperatures are mild.

On warm days when the windows aren’t doing the trick, consider using a ceiling fan before turning on the air conditioner. Ceiling fans use less energy and can have a similar cooling effect – just don’t forget to turn them off when you leave the room to conserve energy.

Cook outdoors

Spring evenings are a great time to fire up the outdoor grill before the summer heat rolls in. Outdoor grilling is also an easy way to conserve energy.

When you cook in an indoor kitchen, the stove isn’t the only thing you’re heating. You’re also increasing the temperature in adjacent rooms by several degrees which can lead to more air conditioner usage and a jolt in your energy bill.

Use a programmable thermostat

The Department of Energy says you can reduce energy costs by approximately 10 percent by programming a thermostat to a higher temperature when you are not going to be home.

While many homes are equipped with a basic programmable thermostat, there are newer products on the market, such as the Google Nest, that could enhance the ways you control your home’s temperature.

Google says their Nest Thermostat E, which retails for $169 on their website, can save consumers an average of 10 to 12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills, resulting in an estimated annual savings of $131 to 145. The gadget utilizes a user’s location through wi-fi and manually turns itself down when users aren’t home. It also allows product owners to change their home’s temperature from anywhere and track their energy usage through the Nest app.

Take advantage of natural light

Spring is the perfect time to pull back the curtains on your windows, raise the blinds and reduce your artificial lighting usage.

In the summer and winter months, blinds and curtains can be essential in keeping heat and cold air out of the home. However, spring temperatures are generally mild and are an exception to this rule on most days.

During spring daylight hours, try to use natural light whenever possible to brighten your home and cut energy costs.

Stop handwashing dishes

Many people don’t realize they are saving energy when they use the dishwasher as opposed to handwashing dishes. But, it’s safe to say that you can put down the kitchen sponge and have no guilt about it, according to Energy Star.

Energy Star says washing dishes in an Energy Star-certified dishwasher versus hand washing can save more than $40 a year. Most Energy Star dishwashers are equipped with robust jets that clean and sanitize dishes powerfully using less heated water.

“A new ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher uses less than half as much energy as washing dishes by hand and saves nearly 5,000 gallons of water a year,” Energy Star says.

 Caulk windows and doors

Old man winter may have damaged seals around doors and windows in your home allowing air to escape – and this can easily go unnoticed if you don’t regularly inspect them.

When the spring weather rolls in, take the time to inspect each window and door opening in your home for any cracks or damaged areas. Use a caulk gun to repair any damaged seals to ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible and ready for the approaching summer heat.

Service your refrigerator

If cleaning the fridge didn’t make it on your spring-cleaning list – you may want to add it to your list too. When you start wiping down shelves and drawers and throwing expired food away, pull the refrigerator away from the wall and check the refrigerator coils – especially if you have pets.

As the weather becomes hotter and pets start to shed, debris and pet hair can collect on the coils forcing the appliance to work harder and use more electricity.  A long-handled brush can help to ensure that your appliance cooling box is operating efficiently and economically.

Saving energy means you could save on electricity bills. And while usage is a major factor, so is your electricity rate. Go to the SaveOnEnergy.com marketplace and enter your ZIP code for help with the rate part of the equation.