Spring Cleaning Projects to Make Your Home Energy Efficient

By Vernon Trollinger, March 9, 2011, Energy Efficiency, Green

With spring lurking out there ready to assail us with beautiful flowers, longer days, and warmer weather, it’s time to think about ways to improve your energy efficiency.  After this winter’s Arctic blasts that played havoc with Texas power, the best and easiest thing to do is clean. Yes!  Cleanliness is next to energy efficiency—ness.

Dirt, dust, and crud commonly reduce energy efficiency and can raise the cost of your electricity in Texas.  Start with your heating and air conditioning sytems.  If you have window air conditioning units, then check them over to make sure they don’t have dust, debris, or leaves stuck to them outside. Also, check to be sure there’s no dust blocking their vents on the inside.

If you have central air, now is the time to clean or replace your air filter. Also check for any dirt trapped inside the air filter housing.  Check your system’s blower by setting the control to “fan”.  If you hear squeaks or squeals or rattles, then the motor bearings may needed oiled.  While it’s not hard to do, the electrical connections can be complicated if not down right dangerous.  Turn this one over to a professional.  Another thing to check is the condensation tubing.  If the tubing is blocked by dust, water can back up and run down into your living space.  Outside, inspect the heat exchanger for any leaves, mud, or debris around it. Clearing that out will help the air flow and it will cool more efficiently.  There are other inspections that should be left to a professional, such as compression and vacuum pressure.  To find a good, consumer-approved repairman check out Angie’s List.

Do you have ceiling fans?  Now is the time to switch their direction from sucking up air from the center of the room to blowing down into the center of the room.  But before you do that, clean the fan blades and the rest of the fan housing.  Otherwise, the fan will blow gray dust-caterpillars all over the room.

Go on mildew patrol!  Mold and mildew form in homes because of cool surfaces, moist air, and poor air circulation.  Several forms can cause serious health problems and will damage you home.  To find it, pull any furniture, like a sofa, away from any of your exterior walls and look.  If you see black splotches on the wall, then you have a mildew problem.  You will need to scrub it away and let it dry thoroughly before pushing back your sofa back into place. Next winter, you might want to pull the sofa away from the wall by a foot so air can circulate better.  Cleaning your windows thoroughly not only lets in sunlight but also kills mildew there, too.

Over winter, lots of scale and rust can build up inside your water heater’s tank.  But it’s easy to flush out.  Turn off the water heater. Attach a garden hose to the drain spigot at the bottom and run the hose outside.  Turn off your main water valve and open all the hot water taps in your house.  Next, open the drain valve on the heater.  After the tank is completely empty, turn on your main water valve and let the water flush out the tank for about 15 to 20 minutes.  When it’s done, close the drain valve on the tank, disconnect the hose and let the water run until it comes out your hot water taps.  Close the taps and turn the heater back on. With the gunk gone from your heater, it will heat more efficiently and you will pay your Texas electricity provider less money.

On your car, change the oil, replace the air intake filter, and check the air pressure in your tires (as little as being 3 lbs low can degrade your mileage).  Your car will use less gas if the tire air pressure is correct.

The last thing, of course, is to open all the windows during a warm March or April afternoon and just let your house air-out.  Hey, it’s Spring!

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Comments (1)


  1. Brooke says:

    Great tips, especially opening the windows! It’s great to air-out the house and let in some fresh air.