Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

April 1, 2013

Home energy-saving tips for the spring

With only a few adjustments, you'll get more comfort and save a little money

By Daryl Nelson
ConsumerAffairs.com

— Switching energy use with each changing season can be confusing.

Besides autumn, spring is the only season where people can switch back and forth between turning on the heat and opening their windows. Read on for some energy-saving, and money-saving, tips.

Adjust the thermostat

According to the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department in Massachusetts, you should adjust and set your thermostat on the lowest temperature you’re able to tolerate because doing so, will save you 3 percent on your heating bill for every degree your thermostat is lowered.

In addition, turn your water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit once springtime hits.

Close your windows during the day and open them up at night, which sounds backward, since many people wake up, see a sunny day and open their window.

In actuality, people should be doing the opposite once it gets warm, says Wakefield Municipal, since sunlight during the day will obviously heat your home and make it too hot.

By keeping your windows closed during the day and then opening them up at night, you’ll allow cool air to float in and make your house a little more comfortable. Then once you wake up in the morning, you should close your windows to keep the cool air inside.

Spring cleaning

Spring cleaning isn’t just an overused term, there are actual energy-saving benefits to doing a thorough clean-up once April rolls around.

Wakefield reminds pet owners that pets tend to shed during the spring, so it’s important to keep things like your refrigerator condenser coils clean and free of pet hair. This will allow your fridge to run much more efficiently.

Additionally, all ceiling and table fans should be checked and cleaned, so they remain dust-free for maximum efficiency. Once May and June arrive, it’s best to change the direction of your ceiling fan so the air is being pulled upward.

Changing the direction of your fan, will allow better cooling and much better airflow, says the Massachusetts light and gas company.

Other energy-saving advice for the spring time includes not using lights and appliances that give off a lot of heat once the temperature rises -- like using the stovetop instead of the oven when it’s warm outside and making sure you’re using lighting that’s better suited for spring and summer.

According to the site Energy.gov, only 10 percent to 15 percent of the electricity used in incandescent lights produces actual light, the other 85 percent to 90 percent give off heat. Using the wrong lighting and appliances during the warmer months will most likely make you want to run your air conditioner continually, which zaps tons of energy. 

If possible, use hair dryers, curling irons and the dishwasher a bit less during the spring and summer seasons, since these appliances produce a lot of heat. In addition, turn off your computer when you’re not using it, as this too will unnecessarily heat your home and force you to crank up the A.C.

Air leaks

When it comes to air leakage in your home, spring is an ideal time to recheck those common areas that let coolness out.

According to the company Green Home Gnome, walls, floors and ceilings account for 34 percent of air leakage, HVAC ducts account for 15 percent, fireplaces 14 percent and windows and doors 10 percent and 11 percent respectively.

Using less hot water during the warmer months is advised as well.

To do so, it is important to know that 37 percent of your yearly hot water usage comes from the shower, 26 percent from the washing machine, 14 percent from the dishwasher, followed by running a bath (12 percent) and using hot water in sinks (11 percent).

So by making just a few adjustments in your home, you’ll not only be able to save money during the warmer seasons, you’ll be making your house a lot more comfortable too.

By making some of these energy changes this year, you might be able to get a tax credit when filing next year, experts advise.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.