According to The Washington Post, the year’s first big clean historically took place in spring because winter left many homes coated with “a layer of soot and grime.” In 1925, only half of all U.S. households had electricity, meaning the others were heated with coal or wood, with lamps presumably lit with whale oil or kerosene.
Imagine the residue that built up in a home over a long winter, and be happy you live in a world where you don’t have to clean up after that mess.
Technology and electricity have made spring cleaning significantly less grimy.
We now live in a world where we need to be more concerned with the mess we are leaving our children and grandchildren in the form of environmental effects created by the sheer amount of electricity we use daily.
This spring, work to decrease your energy footprint. Simple changes can make a big difference over the life of a home—and there is no better time to take steps toward a healthier utility bill and a cleaner environment.
- Unplug items from the wall and turn off power strips. Many devices use electricity even when turned off, including TVs, printers, chargers, copiers, coffee makers, microwaves and lamps.
- Switch off lights when leaving the room. It’s an easy way for every member of your household to contribute to energy savings.
- Close windows and shades when you’re not home. This helps keep the spring and summer sun from heating up your home, forcing your AC to work harder.
- Use a programmable thermostat. Set your thermostat at a comfortable temperature, but program it to raise and lower the temperature when you are away from home or sleeping to save on heating and cooling costs.
- Use dimmer switches. Dimmer switches reduce the flow of electricity, saving you energy and money.
- Lower your water heater temperature. For safety and efficiency, set your water heater thermostat to 120 F.
- Weatherstrip exterior doors and windows. Sealing air leaks around doors and windows saves energy and can reduce heating and cooling costs 10% to 30%.
- Line dry your laundry. Line drying your clothes saves around $1.08 a load. While that doesn’t seem like much, a family that does five to 10 loads of laundry a week can save between $280 and $560 a year.
- Turn off the heat dry on your dishwasher. Allow dishes to air dry to save energy and money on your electricity bill.
- Use ceiling fans, but only when you’re in the room. Fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a windchill effect. If the room is unoccupied, turn off the ceiling fan to save energy.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer stocked. A full fridge and freezer cuts electricity use by acting as insulation.
- Use LED lighting. Residential LEDs use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.
- Wash laundry in cold water. Today’s washing machines are designed to work efficiently with cold water. You can save up to $60 a year by selecting the cold water setting when you wash.
- Keep your computer in sleep mode. You may be done using it, but if not set on sleep mode, the computer still uses electricity.
- Upgrade outdated appliances with Energy Star appliances. Look for newer, more energy-efficient models. The energy savings and tax rebates available will be worth the initial cost.
- Turn off the air conditioner. Depending on where you live, using your air conditioner may be unnecessary—especially in spring and early summer.
- Plug electronics into a smart power strip. Replace standard power strips with advanced power strips. Smart power strips can detect when a device is in standby mode and cut power off to save energy. A standard power strip must be physically turned off when not in use.
- Fix leaky faucets. One drop a second can cost you up to $35 a year and wastes 1,661 gallons of water.
- Use wool or rubber dryer balls. This helps reduce drying time and cuts down on static. Bonus: Wool dryer balls also absorb extra moisture and are an alternative to dryer sheets.
- Limit your oven use. To save energy, use a slow cooker, air fryer, microwave or toaster oven instead of the oven.
- Insulate your electric water heater. This can reduce standby heat loss 25% to 45% and save 7% to 16% in water-heating costs.
- If your toilet was manufactured before 1995, replace it. Newer ones come with many water-saving options and use a fraction of the water as older counterparts.
- Properly insulate your attic. Insulation reduces heat losses and gains, saving you money and improving comfort.
- Install outdoor solar lighting. These are easy to install and are practically maintenance free. Bonus: Using them won’t increase your electric bill.
- Empty the dryer lint-trap. It removes a fire hazard and contributes to efficiency.
- Install low-flow showerheads. Your family will use less water, saving precious water and money.
- Plant trees and shrubs. The proper vegetation provides shade to a home’s east, south and west sides, and can provide a windbreak on the north side.
- Change your HVAC filters frequently. As your filter traps more dirt, dust and allergens, efficiency decreases. A good rule of thumb is to change filters every 90 days.
- Use lids when cooking. Food cooks faster, so you can turn off your stove sooner.
- When in doubt, have an energy audit conducted on your home. This will help you decide what additional home maintenance tasks can help you save on future energy bills.
When it comes to saving energy, every little bit counts. Make small changes now, and you will be on your way to seeing a lower electric bill in the future.