Are your spring allergies affecting your energy bill?

Caitlin Cosper
By Caitlin Cosper March 23rd, 2020
For business

Springtime brings allergies and an increase in energy bills.

After the cold winter months, spring has finally arrived. Spring brings us warmer weather and blooming flowers, but many also find it ushers in allergy season. In fact, more than 50 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies.

There are several steps you can take to help your allergies, but could your allergies also lead to higher energy bills? Read on to learn about how you can avoid itchy eyes and sneezes without sacrificing your energy cost.

HVAC maintenance

As we move into spring, it’s important to give your HVAC system some attention. About half of your home’s energy usage comes from heating and cooling, so an efficient HVAC is crucial. Your indoor air quality can feel the negative effects of a neglected HVAC, leading to worsened allergies and less efficiency.

For starters, be sure to dust out the registers and air return vents with a damp cloth. It’s especially important to begin with this step – if the vents and registers in your HVAC are dusty, that dust will be spread throughout your entire home.

Spring is also an opportune time for you to schedule an appointment with an HVAC technician. Experts recommend having a professional inspect your HVAC at least once a year to ensure it’s running efficiently and isn’t encountering any problems.

Change your air filter

Changing seasons means it’s also a good time to change your air filter. Many experts recommend splurging on more expensive air filters, too. When choosing your air filter, pay attention to the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), which indicates a filter’s ability to remove particles of all sizes from the air.

Similar to your HVAC, the air filters in your home directly impact your indoor air quality – and, by extension, your allergies. Poor air quality leads to more extreme allergy symptoms. Additionally, old or ineffective air filters also put more strain on your HVAC system. When your HVAC has to run longer, your energy bills will go up. Regularly replacing your air filters can lower your energy usage by up to 15 percent.

Keep windows closed and run the air conditioner to keep cool

As the weather warms up, it’s tempting to open your windows to let fresh air inside. However, sufferers of seasonal allergies know opening the windows will bring in outdoor allergens such as pollen and worsen their symptoms. Instead, those with allergies rely more heavily on their air conditioning.

Air conditioning accounts for about 6 percent of energy usage in America – and costs approximately $11 billion for homeowners annually. Your energy bills will only go up if your air conditioning unit isn’t running efficiently. However, there are several habits you can implement to cut down on air conditioning costs.

Experts suggest installing a programmable thermostat, which could save you up to 10 percent on heating and cooling costs each year. You also can use ceiling fans to keep cool. Ceiling fans can lower a room’s temperature by four degrees without using a ton of energy. And if you’re in the market for a new AC unit this spring, consider an ENERGY STAR-certified unit, which are up to 15 percent more efficient than standard units.

Washing clothes, sheets & towels more often

One way to improve springtime allergies is to wash your clothes, sheets, and towels once a week. Keeping these items clean removes indoor allergens while also ridding your home from any outdoor allergens that were tracked in. However, running so many loads of laundry each week can increase your energy usage – and your energy bill.

There are several ways to keep your laundry routine energy-efficient. For starters, you should always begin by cleaning out your dryer’s lint filter. Not only is a dirty filter a fire hazard, but trapped lint can lead to your dryer running longer and less efficiently. For your washing machine, be sure each load is full before running and use cold water whenever you can. Much of your washer’s energy is spent heating water, so you may be able to lower your energy bills just by choosing cold water cycles.

Install dehumidifiers in basements and other moldy areas

Mold is one of the most harmful indoor pollutants and can be difficult to detect. During the warmer months, the humidity outside tends to increase, which can lead to an uptick in mold in your home. To avoid this, experts suggest installing a dehumidifier in areas where mold could thrive – such as your basement or garage.

But if you are using an inefficient dehumidifier, running it constantly can increase what you pay on your energy bill each month. For example, a standard dehumidifier running 10 hours a day can add about $150 onto your energy bill each year.

The cost to run a dehumidifier depends on the model you’re using, the humidity and size of the room, and the number of hours it needs to run. For a complete rundown of energy efficient dehumidifiers, see the Dehumidifier Buyer’s Guide.

Vacuum once or twice a week

Similar to washing your clothes and sheets, it’s important to also vacuum your home more frequently in the spring. This is especially true for homes with carpet. Each day, outdoor allergens are tracked into your home on your shoes, your clothes, or on your pets.

The average vacuum consumes about 1.44 kWh and adds approximately $8 onto your energy bill each year. That consumption depends on the efficiency of the vacuum and the flooring type. It’s easier to vacuum hardwood floors than carpet.

To cut down on the cost of running your vacuum, consider an energy-efficient model that works best for your home’s needs. It’s also important to use your vacuum efficiently. Many of the newer models will pick up dirt and dust without repeated passes over the same area. This reduces the time you need to spend vacuuming – and in turn cuts back on the energy you use to vacuum your home.

With these tips, you can fight against springtime allergies without running up your energy bill. However, if you’re locked into an energy plan with a high rate, you may be paying more regardless. To switch to an energy plan with a lower rate, enter your ZIP code above or click here to learn more.

 

Caitlin Cosper is a writer within the energy and power industry. Born in Georgia, she attended the University of Georgia before earning her master’s in English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Image/Shutterstock

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