March is the start of spring, when the weather warms up (hopefully) and you can start enjoying outdoor activities again. To prepare for the changeover it’s a good idea to get your house ready for the new season and save money on your energy usage. Here are 11 energy-saving tips that will help you get your home ready for spring.
- Organize and declutter your rooms. Time to store your winter clothes and keep rooms clear for fresh spring breezes. Put bulky sweaters and coats into airtight bins until next winter. It’s also a good time to figure out what you don’t wear any more. Donate what you don’t use. When you declutter a room, organize what’s left for storage or later use.
- Inspect caulking around doors, windows and other openings in your house. Winter temperatures can separate or erode caulking, but it can easily be fixed with external silicone caulking or sealant.
- Check insulation around doors and windows. Your windows and doors should be properly insulated to keep warm air out. Make sure that the weather stripping on your door is intact and the seal around the door is good. Check the seals around the windows to make sure there is no splitting or cracking.
- Change the direction of your ceiling fans. In winter, you should set the fan speed to low and the direction to turn clockwise to help draw room air toward the ceiling and force the warm air out and down. During the summer months, set the fan to blow straight down (blades turning counter-clockwise) to help cool you off. Using your fan instead of an air conditioner can save you money.
- Clean your dryer vents. Clogged dryer vents can cause warm air to blow back in to the room and are also a fire hazard. A quick cleaning can help prevent this.
- Service HVAC units regularly. In summer you want your air conditioning system operating at peak efficiency. That won’t happen if you have blocked air filters. In spring and summer allergen levels are higher, so remember to replace your filter at least every 60 days.
- Switch to compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs give off less heat than regular incandescent bulbs, helping you keep your living areas cool and saving you a lot on energy costs.
- Cool off your attic. In summer, your attic becomes a hot box. Installing a vent can pull that hot air off the ceiling, and a fan will also help keep your attic cooler. Another way to cool things down is to add insulation if needed. Insulation helps save energy because it acts as a barrier, keeping heat inside over the winter and out during the summer. Make sure to seal your attic first to prevent air leaks before adding the insulation. Caulking or weather-stripping all cracks and openings will do the trick.
- Look for kitchen updates. It takes a lot of electricity to keep your kitchen going. There are many energy-saving tips to consider for the busiest room in the house: First, think of upgrading your appliances with an Energy Star-labeled model. The replacement will use 40 percent less energy than conventional models sold before 2001. You should also replace all lighting in the kitchen with CFLs, which use less energy and generate less heat.
- Make your living room energy efficient. Your living room also uses a lot of energy. Remember to turn off lights and any devices when they are not in use, and look into power strips with shut-off timers to avoid losing energy through “vampire” power. Even in standby mode, electronic devices use electricity unless they are completely shut off. Although it can be pricey to upgrade electronics like a TV or recording device, replacing old equipment with Energy Star-labeled units will make a big difference in the amount of energy you use.
- Seal your garage. The garage can be one of the biggest sources of energy drain in your home if it isn’t sealed properly. Adding a weather strip to the bottom of the garage door and the door entering your home will help tremendously because it will prevent outside air from coming in and air conditioned air from escaping. If you have a refrigerator or freezer in your garage, make sure you have a model that can hold up to extreme temperatures. In summer a normal fridge or freezer has to work harder to stay cold and will use a lot more energy.
With these energy-saving tips, you might earn a financial head start toward a fun trip. Check out “6 Ways to Save Money for Your Summer Vacation” for ideas on boosting your travel funds.