Spring into Saving Energy

Spring is officially here. You’re waking up to birds chirping in the mornings, riding your bike to work, taking long walks through the neighborhood after work, and grilling dinners. You’re not looking forward to spring cleaning; perhaps you’re like me and waiting for a rainy day to dedicate to the dreaded task. But did you know spring cleaning could help you save energy & help as Columbia competes for the Georgetown University Energy Prizeopens in a new window?

By adding a few things to your spring cleaning to-do list (maybe they’re already on your list?!) you can make your home run better and save energy. Making your home more energy efficient not only saves money on utility bills and reduces carbon emissions, but actually can make your home healthier?

Yes, it’s true. An efficient home has better air quality due to less pollen, dust, other allergens, and fumes able to pass through to the inside of your home.

Start in the Kitchen:

Clean your refrigerator coils.opens in a new window Dust that has built up all year (or longer!) can cause the motor to work harder to keep the fridge cool, therefore using more energy.

While you’re at the fridge, make sure the door seal is clean and tight, so that cold air can’t leak out. A good trick is to place a single dollar bill, or piece of paper, in-between the door and close it. Then, pull at the bill, or piece of paper. If it can easily be removed you should replace the seal.

Do you have a second refrigerator out in the garage? Often a second fridge is only used around the holiday season. Recycle it to save even more. Find out how to recycle your refrigerator in Columbia

Clean your oven and range. This may have already been on your list! A range or oven that has darkened in color due to heavy use absorbs more heat, making it less efficient.

 Make your way down the hall:

Change your HVAC filter. Just like dusty refrigerator coils make your fridge work harder to keep food cold, a dirty filter on your HVAC system causes the system to work harder to heat or cool your home. A filter should be changed every 1-3 months (every month during heating and cooling season). Filters can be found at most home improvement stores.

We have an exciting announcement to make next month regarding HVAC filters (never thought you’d hear that, did you?!). Stay tuned, or better yet, come visit us at the Columbia Earth Day Festivalopens in a new window on April 19 to learn more!

Stop at the sliding glass door:

If you have a sliding glass door that leads outside, make sure the track is clean. A dirty track can ruin the door’s seal creating gaps where air can leak in and out of your home.

Now we’re in the bathroom:

Chances are you were going to stop here for some spring cleaning anyways. While you’re at it, install low-flow showerheads and faucet aeratorsopens in a new window. These will save water, which cut down energy costs by reducing the amount of water you need to heat. 

Did you know water heating accounts for about 18% of your annual energy bill? That’s more than lighting and appliances combined!

Last stop is the Laundry Room:

Clean out your dryer ductsopens in a new window. Dryer ducts that are blocked by dust and dirt make your dryer, one of the most inefficient appliances out there, work harder to dry your clothes. Are you starting to get it? Dirty, dusty appliances have to work harderwhich uses more energy.

Once it starts feeling a little more like spring, why not try skipping the dryer all together? Hang clothes outside or on a drying rack in front of an open window (if the A/C is not on) for fresh smelling laundry every time!

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking how good hiring a cleaning service sounds right about now?! But just think of the money you’ll save in the coming year from ‘spring cleaning for energy efficiency’. Maybe it will be enough to hire one for next year!?

Posted by: Brenna Reed. Brenna is the Sustainability Educator for the City of Columbia, and is coordinating the City’s competitive efforts in the Georgetown University Energy Prizeopens in a new window.