Ask Eartha: How should I ‘think green’ when spring-cleaning?
This springtime weather has got me thinking about my annual deep clean. Aside from washing floors and putting winter stuff away, what else should I be thinking about?
As ski resorts across Colorado stop spinning their lifts, and we — or maybe just me — anxiously await dry dirt and biking, spring-cleaning season commences. After the long winter, I have a growing list of house projects that I want to tackle. And while it’s certainly not glamorous, dusting goes a long way in both cleaning your home and improving energy efficiency. How? All that fuzzy buildup acts like an insulator on your appliances, causing them to work harder. But working harder requires using more energy, which costs money. Add these easy chores to your spring-cleaning checklist to keep your home running efficiently all summer long.
Lighting might not be high on your spring-cleaning to-do list, but it should be. Why? Dust buildup on light bulbs, lamp shades, and fixtures reduces the amount of light emitted. While a dusty glow might create nice mood lighting, it can also cause you to turn on more lights than you’d otherwise need. No surprise, this uses more energy. Wiping down dusty fixtures will ensure you get the amount of light you need without turning on every single lamp in your home.
Dust buildup on appliances and electronics can act like an insulator, making motors and cooling fans work harder than they should. Another energy waster! The back of your fridge is no exception. Did you know that refrigerators account for about 4% of your home’s annual energy use? By simply keeping the coils clean, you can cut the energy use of your refrigerator by up to 35%. With savings that big, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends cleaning the coils every six months.
For more refrigerator TLC, wipe down the rubber seals around the doors to make sure they shut tight (a leaky fridge means wasted energy). Test the seals by placing a piece of paper between them and the door. If you can pull out the paper, you should consider replacing the seal.
Finally, cleaning filters and getting rid of old food can help increase airflow, which also improves refrigerator efficiency. For bonus points, make sure to compost your old food rather than tossing it in the trash.
If you have baseboard heaters, dust and pet hair can accumulate inside, which prevents your heating system from working at its best. Maximize efficiency by removing the baseboard covers and carefully cleaning the fins twice a year. If you have a furnace, replace the air filter a minimum of once per year.
For those with furnaces and boilers, it’s a good idea to have a professional inspect, clean, and service your system at least once a year. This keeps your home heating equipment working safely and at maximum efficiency.
As for cooling, many of us just use fans or open windows in the summertime. Don’t forget to set your ceiling fans to spin counterclockwise during warmer weather. This helps to redistribute cooler air throughout your space.
Windows and doors
Take advantage of all the extra daylight by washing your windows and screens. Not only will this let more light into your home, but clean screens also ensure that when the windows are open, fresh air (and not dust bunnies) wafts into your rooms.
Don’t forget about your doors! Washing your sliding door tracks and weatherstripping will ensure all seals are connecting when doors are shut, preventing unwanted air from entering or escaping.
Clean and green
Can’t wait to get started on this list? Neither can I! Spring-cleaning requires some elbow grease, but these efficiency tips will reward your efforts with comfort and energy savings. Looking for more ways to save energy? Head over to the High Country Conservation Center’s website to sign up for an energy audit, and let the pros determine your home’s most needed improvements. Level up your spring project list by taking advantage of generous home efficiency rebates. Then relax all summer knowing that your home is well-prepared for the inevitable return of winter.
Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org
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