March is a time of renewal. We’re shaking off the last chill of winter, leaves are starting to turn green and people are airing out their homes. Like nature, everyone is eager for a fresh start.
There are things every homeowner can do to freshen up around the house and reduce energy use at the same time. Use these four electricity spring cleaning tips to enjoy lower bills all year long.
Clean the Air Vents and Filters
The simplest way to improve the energy efficiency of an HVAC system and appliances is to clean the vents and clean/change air filters. Doing so will improve air quality and airflow. When air flows more freely equipment doesn’t have to work as hard and less energy is used.
Air vents, also known as return registers, should be cleaned regularly to prevent buildup.This can be easily done with a vacuum or a damp cloth. If a room is rarely used you may want to consider closing its vents after they’re cleaned.
Air filters should be cleaned or changed at least once every two months. The Department of Energy estimates that keeping air filters clean can decrease HVAC energy use by up to 15%.
Clean and Seal the Air Ducts
The air ducts are another spot to add to the spring cleaning list. The jury is still out on whether cleaning has a huge impact on energy efficiency, but it certainly cleans up the air quality. If there’s evidence of mold or pest activity in the ducts a good cleaning is definitely needed.
While you’re cleaning the air ducts go ahead and check for leaks. The jury may be out on cleaning, but sealing up leaks in the air ducts will make a difference in the amount of energy that’s wasted. When the air ducts leak heated and cooled air seeps out into voids and crawl spaces rather than inhabited rooms. Sealing the leaks will keep climatized air in the ducts so it gets where it’s supposed to go.
- Duct mastic is recommended for sealing around joints and seams.
- If gaps around joints and seams are larger than a quarter inch use drywall tape first to bridge the gap.
- Choose heat-approved tapes, butyl tape and foil tape to seal leaks on the duct surface
Extra Energy Saving Step: To maximize the energy savings consider having your HVAC system professionally serviced and cleaned. The NADCA found that cleaning a slightly dirty system reduces energy use by 11%.
Clean Up Cracks Around Window Doors
An item that should be on your spring cleaning list is weatherizing around the doors and windows. You may have heard this tip before, but few people realize how beneficial it is for your comfort, health and wallet.
Weatherizing means using caulk and weatherstripping to seal up gaps around windows, doors and other spots in the home. For less than $20 and a few hours of your time you can get numerous weatherization benefits:
- Keep out debris, dust and dirt
- Prevent bugs from getting inside
- Minimize moisture problems
- Stop climatized air from getting outside
The last point can have a dramatic effect on energy use. According to a report by Fine Home building as much as a third of the energy used in a home leaks out. Of course the other points can impact energy efficiency as well since pests and filth can clog filters and damage duct work.
If you’re really motivated to clean up the energy waste you can seal up a home well beyond the windows doors.
Clean Out the Hot Water Heater
Inside the bowels of your hot water heater sediment can build up. This build up can prevent the water heater from operating at peak performance. The solution: clean out your hot water heater at least once a year. This is what’s known as flushing a water heater. It can be done with a few simple tools. Just don’t forget to turn off the electricity and gas before you begin.
Extra Energy Saving Step: Insulate around the hot water heater. You can purchase an insulated sleeve that goes around the tank and cover the pipes with foam or fiberglass insulation.
Provider Power can help residents in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine clean up their energy use! We offer competitive rates on clean energy plans that also support the communities we serve. When you select Provider Power everyone wins!