5 Steps for an Energy-Efficient Spring
With the weather warming up around the country and only a few weeks until the official start of spring, it’s time that many start thinking about their annual spring-cleaning to-do list.
This year, as you’re planning for ways to clean, organize or improve your living space, don’t forget to add a few energy-related tasks to that list. By taking action now, while the weather’s mild, you can save energy, improve comfort and reduce your environmental impact year round.
Here are a few items to consider for your spring-cleaning to-do list this year:
1. Make sure your A/C is in good order before hot weather arrives.
When mild spring weather has settled in your area, it’s the perfect time to schedule a tune-up for your air-conditioning system. Since cooling is such a large part of your home’s energy usage during the summer months, an HVAC technician can make sure your system is in good working order for the hot weather ahead. According to the Department of Energy, routine maintenance can lower your system’s energy consumption by 15 percent!
There are also steps that you can take without a technician. You can check your home’s air filters and easily replace them. A clogged filter will cause your HVAC fan to work harder, leading to energy waste. You can also check for leaks in your air ducts. While your system is running, feel along the ductwork in your basement and attic. You can patch a small leak with aluminum tape; however, if you notice something out of the ordinary, you may want to call a technician.
2. Stop air leaks around your windows and doors or in your attic.
If your home has air coming in around your doors and windows or in the attic, you may be wasting a considerable portion of the cool air that your HVAC system is producing, causing the system to work excessively. Springtime is a great time to fix these leaks before the hottest weather of the year arrives.
Caulking and weather-stripping are two easy ways to seal leaks. Caulk is used for cracks and openings around stationary features, such as window frames. And weatherstripping is used to seal components that move, such as doors and windows. These simple DIY tasks may be able to save you up to 20 percent on your cooling costs! Having a proper insulation is also important. If you haven’t had an expert check your insulation in recent years, it may be a good time to call an expert.
3. Swap any of your old lightbulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs.
You can upgrade your home’s lighting really any time of the year. However, as upgrading to LEDs is one of the smartest energy-efficient upgrades you can make around your home, it’s a great idea to add it to your springtime to-do list if you haven’t made the switch yet.
LED bulbs use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, according to the Department of Energy. They are also safer to have in the home and less of a fire hazard since they don’t rely on heat. The average American home has around 40 lightbulbs and replacing all 40 incandescent bulbs with LEDs could result in savings of $300 a year on energy costs.
4. Upgrade your thermostat to a smart version for energy savings.
Another smart upgrade you can make in the spring is installing a smart thermostat, which can have an immediate and significant impact on your home’s energy usage. According to two studies, smart thermostats could save you about 12 percent on heating and 15 percent on cooling, which, based on average energy usage and home size, would be roughly $140 in savings per year on energy bills.
Since the top-of-the-line smart thermostat models can cost over $200, it’s a good idea to see if your power company offers any deals for customers. Many power companies today have online marketplaces for their customers to purchase energy-efficient products, often at significantly reduced prices. Before heading to a store to buy a new Nest or ecobee, make sure your check with your power company first.
5. Look into a home energy assessment from your power company.
Finally, spring is a great time to look into whether your power company offers a low- or no-cost energy audit. This professional service will provide you with “a thorough analysis of your home's energy use” and next steps that you can take to reduce your home’s total energy usage. If you’re serious about reducing your energy consumption this spring, a professional energy audit is a great first step. Some power companies will even offer free energy-efficient products (like LED lightbulbs) when they complete an audit.
As warmer spring weather reaches your part of the country, don’t forget to add a few energy-related tasks to your to-do list this spring. With a few easy steps, you can start saving energy now and prepare your home for a more energy-efficient summer.