It’s that time of year again as we move out of the winter and into warmer weather, so make sure to include some home maintenance on your spring cleaning to-do list. Consider adding these actions to your checklist:
- Air Conditioning. Clean or replace your air conditioning unit filters about once every 1-2 months during the cooling season to make sure it’s running efficiently, and if you have central air, schedule your yearly check up with the HVAC technician. This is a great time to ask your technician about replacing your old unit with an energy-efficient ENERGY STAR model, which can save 20 to 40% of your cooling energy costs. (Find cooling tips on this page of the Energy Star website. For more tips on maintaining your air conditioner, check out this Energy Department page.)
- Ceiling Fan: When the weather gets warm, it’s time to change the direction of your fan. In the summer, run it counterclockwise to push cool air down. (Watch our video to see how you do this!) If you don’t have a fan, consider installing one to keep the air circulating year-round while reducing energy demands on your AC unit. Remember, fans cool your skin, not the room, so when you leave turn it off.
- Refrigerator. Clean the coils behind your fridge to reduce your system’s energy usage by up to 30%. While you’re at it, make sure the door seals are airtight to keep your fridge motor from working overtime. CUB recommends closing a piece of paper in the door and seeing how hard it is to pull out– this tells you how well the seals are working.
- Drafts. Keep the cold air in by locating and sealing any leaks with the big three: windows, doors, and floors. Energy Star has a great guide for getting started, and don’t forget to check out unconditioned spaces like the attic and crawl spaces. Many Illinois utilities offer rebates for sealing and insulation, so be sure to visit our Clean Energy page and the website of your gas and electric utilities.
- Thermostat. Consider buying a programmable or smart thermostat. Some utility companies (Nicor, Peoples Gas and ComEd, for example) offer a free home energy assessment that can install a new programmable thermostat at no cost, potentially saving you up to $180 a year. If you’d prefer, you can instead purchase a discounted smart thermostat through the assessment and have it installed for free. The home energy assessment also offers energy efficient swaps (free LEDs) and best practices customized to your needs. (Read a first-person account by one of CUB’s lawyers.)
- Windows. Check your window and door screens to make sure they’re clean and in good condition to improve the airflow in your home without inviting pesky bugs. You can also add window coverings or blinds to help keep out the 76% of sunlight that becomes heat. This is a good time to check door hinges and window latches.
- Grill. Clean and prepare your grill for outdoor cooking. Since grills keep heat out of the kitchen, air conditioners don’t have to work extra to cool it off.
Bonus tip: It’s time to swap your flannel sheets for regular linens as we prepare for warmer weather. If you’re on the market for new summer sheets, try bamboo or eucalyptus sheets for their added cooling effects.
With these items checked off your list, you can enjoy the warm weather knowing you’ve made your home more energy-efficient to hold down summer electric bills. Check out CUB’s Clean Energy page for more information.