Sometimes, making energy efficient building improvements can seem intimidating. Should you install solar panels on the roof of your home or office? Purchase new appliances? Replace all your lightbulbs? There are countless ways to go green, but making energy efficiency improvements doesn’t need to be a big endeavor. If you have a free afternoon and basic cleaning supplies, you can boost energy efficiency at no cost with a little spring cleaning.
Refrigerator. When’s the last time you looked behing your refrigerator? Move the fridge away from wall, and you’ll probably see refrigerator coils coated in dust, hair, pet fur, and dirt collect. Using your vacuum’s brush attachment, vacuum the coil and fan. Newer refrigerators may have a more discreet, hidden coil – check out this article for detailed tips on cleaning refrigerator coils. Be sure to unplug the refrigerator before vacuuming.
Air Filters. Air conditioners, furnaces, and heaters are magnets for dust. Too much debris build up slows down airflow, so the system has to work harder. Clean or replace air filters at least once a year. It’s a good idea to clean fans and space heaters as well. Filter maintenance doesn’t end with heating and cooling units. Most appliances have an air filter or debris filter- dishwashers, clothes dryers, even hair dryers. Clean appliances are much more efficient, and vacuuming a filter is a quick way to maximize energy efficiency.
Freezer. If your freezer is lined with more than 1/4 inch of frost, it’s time to defrost. Encased in a layer of ice, a freezer uses much more energy to keep food cold, contributing to higher energy bills. There are several ways to defrost a freezer. First, it’s important to unplug the freezer and remove all food and ice cube trays. Then, you can open the door and let it sit, or speed up the process with warm water. It’s a good idea to protect floor from any leaks with old newspapers or rags. EnergyStar has great tips for freezer maintenance.
Water Heater. This workhorse is prone to mineral deposits and sediment build-up. Keep your water heater running smoothly by draining water from the heater once a year. First, turn the power off and shut off all water supply. You’ll need a hose and a bucket. Simply drain water from the tank into a bucket. When the water stops flowing out of the hose, turn the water supply back on to flush sediment from the tank. Older water heaters may have weak or corroded drain valves, so be careful, and be sure to read any warning labels on the water tank.