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Spring Cleaning

As the last snow melts, days become longer and temperatures rise, many start checking off items from their annual deep-cleaning list.  Scrub buckets, mops, brooms, sponges and cleaning supplies are pulled from shelves to tackle jobs that may only be considered once a year. This year, consider a few others to improve your home’s energy efficiency and save money. It’s all about keeping cool!

Refrigerators – After a year of storing your leftovers and condiments at 40°F or below, it’s time to remove unneeded and expired food from refrigerators and freezers. If you haven’t noticed, the baking soda you put in there two years ago to help manage odors has long since expired. Going through all of your “fridge’s” nooks to pitch and re-position items will help chilled air circulate efficiently. Finish the interior by checking and cleaning the seals to assure a tight fit.

Don’t stop there! As their name implies, your unit transfers heat through a refrigeration cycle using coils. When the exterior coils become covered with whatever is in the air, heat transfer takes longer. Thus, the refrigerator runs longer and adds to your power bill.

Where can you find these coils? Look underneath or at the back of your unit. If it’s been a while, use a dryer lint brush and vacuum cleaner to tackle what you find. The Humane Society doesn’t offer a reward for freeing “dust bunnies,” but your electric bill will.

Ceiling Fans – When you switch from heating to cooling, don’t forget to change your ceiling fan’s rotation. Counterclockwise will push air directly down and help balance temperature through the room. Most fans have a reversing switch close to where the blades connect. If you need a stepstool to reach it, bring a cleaning rag to eliminate other dust perched on the top sides of fan blades.

Air Conditioning Systems – Was the last time you changed the air filter in your HVAC system before Christmas? If it’s been more than 90 days, check to see if replacement is needed. Don’t waste your time and money with cheap fiberglass filters. Instead, spend a little extra on a pleated paper filter that stops smaller particles from passing through.

Does your HVAC system have an outdoor condensing unit setting next to the house? Whether it’s a heat pump or an air conditioner, these units are exposed to the environment all year. Leaves, dirt and other debris lodge between the coils and diminish your HVAC system’s efficiency. If your local electric utility is a partner in supporting EnergyWiseSM energy efficiency programs, you may be eligible for a $30 incentive to have a certified HVAC technician provide a full system cooling tune-up.

Your local utility can help identify other ways you can save money while providing reliable, low cost and sustainable energy. For more ideas or information about EnergyWiseSM lighting incentives, contact your local public power utility.

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