10 Tips to Improve Your Energy Efficiency This Spring
The transition from winter to spring means different things to different people, but most importantly, spring cleaning is on our minds. With snow and wind battering your home during the winter months, your house may need a refresh.
Spring cleaning may help improve energy efficiency by getting rid of all the built-up dust and grime from the winter months. It’s also an opportunity to invest in energy-efficient replacements for various items and appliances around your home. To help your house run more efficiently and effectively, use this checklist of spring cleaning energy-saving tips to prepare for the warmer months ahead.
Clean Filters and Vents
Spring cleaning involves making sure all the fans and vents in your home are working correctly and are dust-free. After a long season of heating, your furnace ducts may have collected a good amount of debris; wipe the vents down with a sponge and remove the grille and vacuum out the inside. Regularly wash or replace your HVAC filters to improve energy efficiency and airflow, as well as protect your lungs from dust that may have accumulated within the vents.
Upgrade Your Bathroom Fan
This spring cleaning energy-saving tip might help you improve one of the rooms your family uses the most: the bathroom. Consider installing a timer switch on your bathroom fan, so that it runs only as long as necessary. It’s easy to walk away and forget that it’s still on! You can even replace your current fan with an energy-efficient model that has an ENERGY STAR® rating.
Adjust Your Ceiling Fan
When temperatures start to rise, make sure you change your ceiling fan’s airflow direction. In the winter, your ceiling fan should spin clockwise to pull cooler air towards the ceiling, which then pushes the warmer air hovering near the ceiling down toward the floor. In the warmer season, switch the direction of airflow to counterclockwise to push air downward, creating a breeze that feels cooler. This handy spring energy efficiency tip may result in less use of your furnace and air conditioner, so adjust your thermostat accordingly!
Install Thermal Curtains
Part of your spring cleaning routine should include preparing for the summer. Consider investing in some insulated, thermal-backed drapes (you might know them as “blackout curtains”) for your windows to potentially improve your home’s energy efficiency They can help keep your living space cooler in the summertime by preventing sunlight from entering the windows and adding unwanted heat. The cooler your home stays on its own, the less you’ll need to use fans to keep things comfortable.
Find the Right A/C for Your Needs
Before buying an air conditioning unit or system, find out its energy efficiency ratio (EER). The EER is a measurement of how much cooling the system does for each unit of energy it uses. The higher the EER, the more energy efficient the air conditioner is. Calculate the EER by dividing the unit's cooling capacity (BTUs/hour) by its energy requirement (watts). If your unit has a low EER or is older, consider investing in a more efficient system. As an additional and important spring energy efficiency tip, remember to buy the smallest capacity unit or system that will meet your needs. An oversized unit may lead to uneven cooling, short cycling, higher energy costs and other issues.
Use Attic Ventilation to Cool Your Home
Invest in an attic ventilating system that draws fresh air up through the house and make sure it’s free of debris. Depending on your home’s size and layout, a roof ventilation system could reduce your cooling costs, according to Family Handyman. While optimizing your attic ventilation system may not be top-of-mind, it’s an important spring cleaning energy-saving tip for both your comfort and your wallet. Open your attic ventilator during summer evenings to let in cooler air, then seal your home during the day.
Seal Cracks in Walls
Have a look at your foundation walls and ensure they survived the winter months intact. By sealing cracks against airflow, you may be able to reduce your cooling and heating bills. If you have an unfinished basement or crawlspace, check for air leaks and close them up with the appropriate waterproof and/or fire-resistant sealant. If the leak is substantial, call in a professional to safely and completely seal the damaged area.
Clean and Seal Sliding Glass Doors
Does your home have a sliding glass door? Make sure to keep its track clean by sweeping and vacuuming out the jambs. According to Glass Doctor, a dirty track might ruin the door's seal and create gaps. These gaps can lead to energy loss due to heat or cold air escaping your home — not to mention the critters that might join you indoors! In addition to its cleanliness, check to make sure your door’s track is aligned and flush with the door itself. Dents, dings and other daily damage can add up and contribute to a faulty seal.
Clean Kitchen Appliances
An important, but often-overlooked, spring cleaning energy-saving tip: Inspect your kitchen appliances! Don't forget to check the seals on your refrigerator and freezer doors to make sure they are clean and tight. Clean out the coils underneath your refrigerator to remove dust and keep it running at peak efficiency. Clean your stove and oven, as well. Stuck-on food particles can darken your appliance, causing your oven and range to absorb more heat and use more energy than necessary.
Clean and Seal Your Garage
Give your attached garage a once-over. Clean your ducts and vents to improve airflow and check for leaks around the garage door. If you notice air escaping, you may want to replace or add weather stripping to create a tighter seal. As you’re cleaning the rest of your garage, inspect the insulation on the areas that connect to your home (e.g. ceiling and walls attached to the house). Ensuring your garage has proper insulation can keep the temperatures in your home from fluctuating with the temperatures of your garage, which may ultimately help reduce energy costs, according to The Spruce.
The beginning of a new season brings the opportunity to improve your home’s energy efficiency, which can lead to energy savings with your power provider. Following these simple spring cleaning energy-saving tips can help your home run smoothly in the warmer months ahead.
Note: These tips are general suggestions and actual results may vary.