There’s something about spring that makes you want to start fresh, especially at home. With the cold days behind us, we’re all eager to open up the windows and let the sunshine in. But all that sunshine is highlighting the fact a good layer of dust gathered over the winter.
As you get things ready for this year’s Spring Cleaning, you can use it as an opportunity to also improve energy efficiency around your house. Let’s take a look at five ways Spring Cleaning can increase energy efficiency well into summer.
Do an Energy Audit While You Clean
If you’re cleaning just about every inch of your house, it’s a good opportunity for a do-it-yourself energy audit. Luckily, the team at Spark Energy has created a four-part guide on conducting a DIY energy audit at home. It’s broken down so that you can take it one step at a time as needed.
Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits, Part 1: Detecting Air Leaks
Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits, Part 2: Checking Insulation
Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits, Part 3: Inspecting HVAC Equipment
Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits, Part 4: Lighting
Clean Air Filters to Improve HVAC Efficiency by up to 15%
The first thing that should be on your Spring Cleaning list is to clean or replace the air filter for your HVAC system. Hidden within the air handler, it’s easy to forget that the filter is there clearing the air of particles so that they don’t get into the HVAC system and dirty up components.
But the filter can only clean the air for so long before it becomes clogged up with the contaminants that it traps. The more gunked up the filter is, the harder it is for clean air to pass through. As a result, the HVAC system works harder to keep circulating air. And when the HVAC has to work harder it uses more energy.
The Department of Energy has measured the impact that an air filter has on an HVAC system’s performance. After extensive research they determined that a dirty air filter can decrease efficiency by 5-15%. All you have to do to avoid the increase in energy use is replace the air filter every 1-3 months before it gets clogged.
Clean HVAC Vents to Improve Airflow and Energy Use
Now that you understand why a dirty air filter negatively impacts energy efficiency, it’s easy to see why dirty HVAC vents do the same. Dirty air vents are a double whammy. They can decrease airflow at the vent as well as at the air filter since the dirt can easily blow off the vent and get carried into the system.
It’s best to clean vents as soon as you see dust and dirt building up. Another way to keep vents clean while improving energy efficiency is to close vents if they are in a room that isn’t used often.
Clean Coils to Help Refrigerators Run More Efficiently
The vents to your HVAC system aren’t the only ones that can use a good cleaning. Your refrigerator will also run more efficiently if the vent is cleaned and free of buildup. But don’t stop there! A dirty vent is a clear sign that the refrigerator coils inside also need to be cleaned.
Dirty refrigerator coils can increase energy use by as much as 35% because the fridge won’t be able to cool as efficiently. This is huge given that the refrigerator is one of the appliances that use the most electricity even when it’s running perfectly.
Cleaning refrigerator coils is actually much easier than it sounds. It’s a project that most DIYers can handle on their own with just a screwdriver to remove the vent panel, a vacuum and a $5 refrigerator coil brush. If you don’t have the specialized brush a regular duster will do the trick.
Inspect the Seals of Windows and Doors as You Clean
A fair number of air leaks exist around doors and windows, which makes sense given that they open to the outdoors. Proper sealing is very important if you want to avoid having the conditioned air seep out or unconditioned air getting in.
A good Spring Cleaning will involve more than wiping down the glass on windows. You’ll also want to clean out the tracks to ensure the seal is airtight. Check to see if there are any air gaps around the edge of the window. You may actually be able to see light coming through some air gaps. Note any place where you detect an air leak so that you can caulk it once you’re done cleaning.
The same should be done around exterior doors and the door leading into the garage. Clean around the edges of the door and the jam to get a nice seal. On the doors you’ll want to also inspect the weatherstripping. If it’s worn or torn you’ll need to replace it.
Spring Cleaning is a great time to evaluate whether you need to make changes to your energy plan. Millions of customers have made the switch to Spark Energy because they know they can count on us to help optimize gas and electricity use. From our selection of variable and fixed rate energy plans to usage data on bills to our resource center, you’ll find what you need to conserve more so you can spend less.