As you’re cleaning and tidying up after winter, here are tips for saving energy this spring:
- Open up your house – Install screens and open up your windows and doors to warming – or cooling – spring breezes. That’s free “conditioned” air you don’t have to pay for.
- Take advantage of natural light – Before sunlight heats up your house, let that light pour inside. Use natural light to illuminate your house, particularly if you’re still using left-over incandescent light bulbs.
- Wash your clothes cold, then air dry them – Up to 90 percent of the energy for washing clothes is for heating the water. Most clothes wash just fine in cold water. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates about 392 loads of laundry a year for a typical family at .08 cents per kilowatt-hour. Switching to cold water could save about $60 a year. Of course, always wash a full load not a partial.
- As for drying clothes, dry clothes in a dryer for just a couple of minutes to remove wrinkles. Then, use solar power by hanging them to dry outside, or simply hang them on racks inside, and save about 5 percent of your energy bill, according to DOE.
- Change ceiling fans – Change the blade direction to counter-clockwise in warmer weather. When you stand underneath a fan, you should feel cooler. If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort. Turn it off when you leave the room – fans cool people not rooms.
- Clean your refrigerator – Your fridge is one of the biggest energy hogs in your house and could account for nearly 14 percent of your energy consumption. Vacuum the coils on the back, and adjust the temperature to 37 to 40 degrees for maximum efficiency. Also, check the seals on the refrigerator door and replace if leaking. Remove old food to allow greater airflow, but keep the interior about two-thirds full for greatest efficiency. If possible, move your fridge away from your stove so it can efficiently cool contents.
- Cook outside – Keep the heat out of your house on warm days and fire up the grill.
- Lower water temperature – The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends setting your water heater at no more than 120 degrees to avoid scalding and to save energy. Water heating accounts for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home.