Eco-Friendly Spring Cleaning & Saving Energy
It’s officially spring! As the snow melts and plants show their first blooms, people around the country start to break out their vacuums and dusters for the annual spring cleaning tradition! After several months of being cooped up why not give our homes some TLC. To help jump-start your cleaning frenzy we have put together a list of 10 helpful ways to save energy and money.
Open up those windows! You’re going to need light while you clean, and the easiest and cheapest way to light your house is with the natural sunlight. Also, you can warm your home during the day by letting the sun in which will reduce your heating bill. As the season progresses to warmer weather, using your blinds to shade your home will allow you to take advantage of the longer daylight hours without adding unnecessary heat. To save even more money, open your windows to cool your home instead of using your air conditioner.
Use ceiling fans. You can help heat and cool your home by using ceiling fans. While it is still cold out, make sure your fans are spinning clockwise at low speed to help rotate the warm air downward. When the temperature is warmer, make sure your fans spin counter-clockwise to push air down to cool your home. Cooling your home with ceiling fans allows you to raise your thermostat four degrees, lowering your electricity bills without sacrificing comfort.
Upgrade your cleaning products. While you are paying closer attention to your windows and fans, you may get the urge to dust. Using reusable towels instead of paper towels will decrease landfill waste and save you money in the long run. In most cases, you don’t need to buy new towels. Simply cutting up an old towel or t-shirt will do the trick. Try to use cleaning products that contain all-natural ingredients and are third-party certified as “green.” You can also make your own!
Caulk air leaks. A visual inspection will show you the air leakage problem spots. When you find them, seal them with the appropriate materials. This is a great start, but you will also benefit from finding the less obvious gaps to properly air seal your home. Using low-cost caulk to seal cracks and openings in your home keeps the inside temperature regulated -- and cash in your wallet.
Check out your lighting: When you need more light than the sun can provide, make sure you are using energy-saving incandescent, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) bulbs. Your electric utility may offer rebates or other incentives for purchasing energy-efficient bulbs. Also look for ways to use controls such as a smart thermostat, dimmers, or timers to reduce your lighting use.
Invest in a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats typically have features such as voice command response, the capability to program with your phone, and learn your behavior, so they automatically adjust temperature settings based on previous usage. These thermostats serve to heat and cool your home in the most efficient way to save about 10% of energy costs. Also, some utilities offer savings programs for customers who have a smart thermostat. See Xcel Energy’s AC Rewards Program here.
Don’t forget the small appliances. The major and small appliances and electronics – like computers, tablets, game systems, even smartphones – in your home all use energy. Consider ways to cut back like unplugging an item when it is not in use, changing the settings, or purchasing a new, more efficient product. Learn more about shopping for efficient appliances and electronics here.
Service your air conditioner and other major appliances. Replacing or cleaning air filters can lower your cooling system’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent, and it is easy to do! Vacuum your air conditioner’s evaporator coil, which should be cleaned annually to ensure the system is performing at optimal levels. While you are at it, vacuum your refrigerator coils and your dryer vents to improve energy efficiency and lower your bills!
Skip the dryer and air-dry your clothes. Save electricity by taking advantage of the nicer weather and drying all of your bedding, clothes, and towels outside instead of in the dryer. Air-drying clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by 2,400 pounds a year. Save the dryer for rainy days, and you’ll be taking big steps to help the environment.
Hire a professional: To gain maximum energy efficiency consider a professional home energy audit. Professional energy assessments generally go into great detail to assess your home's energy use, and will give you options for reducing your usage, which can save you money in the long-run.
In addition to the tips mentioned below, check out the infographic by Sarah Gerrity from the Department of Energy to get more tips to a happier, healthier, environmentally-friendly spring!