Waking up to a yellow coating of pollen all over your car? It looks like spring has finally arrived, along with warmer weather, longer days, and plenty of opportunities to get outside. But don’t let that be an excuse to forget about your spring cleaning checklist! While you’re at it, take some simple steps to make sure you’re getting the most out of your home (and saving on your energy bill!) when you’re there and even when you’re not.
Step 1: Don’t let winter hold you back.
Snow and storms can weaken insulation and weather stripping, so look around your home to figure out where cracks, holes, and drafts have formed. Then head to your favorite home improvement store to grab some caulk and maybe one of those snazzy door snakes you saw on the home shopping channel at 2 a.m. As a bonus, you might finally figure out how the squirrels got into the attic for the fourth time this year.
Don’t want to start a massive home insulation project? Try these DIY fixes with chimney balloons or foil sheets.
Step 2: Let in the fresh air.
Turn off the heat and open the windows! Make sure you also have your fans turning the right direction: counter-clockwise in the summer for maximum breeze. There should be a button on the remote, or a switch near the motor. Don’t forget to turn the fans off when you’re not in the room!
Before you give in to the A/C, make sure to have the unit serviced. The life of an HVAC system is 15-20 years, so it might be time to upgrade that too. Also consider buying a programmable thermostat so you’re not cooling the house when you’re not there, and change the settings at night too to save another $130 per year.
Step 3: Appliances to the rescue!
Believe it or not, we’re actually going to give you an excuse to use your dishwasher. Hand washing dishes can use up to 5,000 more gallons of water per year. So throw them in the dishwasher and call it a win.
Plus, you can use the extra time you saved to clean the fridge. Get rid of expired food that’s blocking air circulation and dust off the coils for max energy efficiency. After all, what’s spring cleaning without a jar of unidentified jelly-like substance from the depths of the second shelf?
If you feel like making a long-term investment in energy efficiency, consider upgrading to Energy Star appliances.
Step 4: Tackle laundry without breaking a sweat.
About 75% of the energy it takes to do laundry goes to heating water, so try washing your clothes on the cold cycle this spring. Cold water is also better for your clothes, especially those colorful spring additions you want to keep looking bright.
We won’t recommend you take a cold shower, too, but you can turn down the temperature on your water heater so the default setting isn’t quite so scalding. As for drying (the clothes, not yourself), make use of the nice weather to experiment with line drying, though pollen allergy sufferers might want to stick with cleaning out the lint filter on the indoor option. Washing and drying during non-peak hours also is a plus.
Step 5: Take it outside.
As excited as everyone is to see the grass again, don’t water yours too soon. Between melting snow and the rainy season most lawns should be able to last until late spring or early summer before they really need care. So keep your sprinkler system off a little longer and save yourself the 1,000 gallons per hour.
If you have automatic lights switch the timers to go on later or turn them off entirely, and maybe give the Christmas lights a break between now and December. Unless you’re a Christmas in July kind of person. No judgment.
Step 6: Enjoy your energy-efficient home!
Finish spring cleaning knowing your home is working hard to keep your energy bill low. Pick a clean shirt off the clothesline, grab the fruit platter from the newly optimized fridge, and head off to your friend’s Earth Day barbecue (that’s a thing, right?) while that programmable thermostat you bought keeps your house at the perfect away-from-home temperature.