Energy tips to efficiently maintain your home
Check refrigerator and freezer doors for a good seal
Magnetic door seals can weaken their grip on the edge of the refrigerator or freezer cabinet.
Test the seals regularly by closing a piece of paper in each door at several places around the perimeter. If the paper pulls out easily, the seal is weak. You may need to adjust the door or install a new seal.
Dust your light bulbs regularly
Clean bulbs give off 50 percent more light than dirty ones, giving you all the light you’re paying for. If that turns out to be more light than you need, try a smaller bulb.
Keep your refrigerator cool
When a refrigerator is surrounded by warmth, its compressor must work overtime. A decrease in 5 degrees in ambient temperature can cut energy consumption by 20 percent. To keep your refrigerator cool, allow about 2 inches of airspace between the appliance and nearby walls and cabinets; doing so offers an escape route for heat from the compressor and condensing coils. Shield your refrigerator from direct sunlight, and position it as far as practical from the stove, dishwasher, and heating vent.
Turn off the icemaker in your freezer
The convenience of ice at your fingertips can increase energy consumption by 14 to 20 percent. Make ice the old fashioned way, in ice trays.
Set the refrigerator and freezer for the ideal temperatures
Super-cold temperatures in a refrigerator or freezer offer little benefit and waste energy. To minimize the amount of money you spend to keep food cold, keep the refrigerator temperature between 37 and 40 degrees F and the freezer between 0 and 5 degrees F. To check the refrigerator temperature, place a thermometer in a glass of water, and set it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. To check the freezer, place the thermometer between frozen foods for the same amount of time.
Vacuum your refrigerator’s condenser coils annually
When condenser coils are clean, the compressor cools more efficiently and runs less frequently. Pull your refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum the coils behind it. If the coils are underneath the refrigerator, remove the grille at the bottom of the appliance and brush the coils.
Keep the gas flames in your kitchen burning blue
In gas stoves, ovens, water heaters, and the like, blue flames mean efficient burning. If flames are yellow, try increasing the airsupply by adjusting the shutter, which is usually located under the stovetop. If you do replace your stove, make sure to recycle it properly. You can locate nearby recycling companies online.
Degrease the oven door seal
A tight seal between the oven door and the cabinet will ensure maximum heat retention. Gently clean the seal and the cabinet where they meet with hot, sudsy water or a general-purpose kitchen cleaner, dabbing the liquid onto the mesh seal with a cloth. Take care not to move or damage the seal.
Inspect the dryer exhaust vent regularly
A clogged vent, like a lint packed filter, reduces dryer efficiency. Check that the vent is clear by feeling for warm moist air at the exit after the dryer has been operating for several minutes. Also, observe whether the outside flap opens freely to let the hot air out and closes to bar entry to rain and small animals. If not, install a new one.
Plug air leaks that raise utility bills by letting outdoor air into the house
Less obvious leaks can occur where plumbing, ducting, and electrical wiring penetrate exterior walls. Having your home tested with a blower door will help to identify and cure the problem areas.
Keep humidity under control
Because relative humidity affects comfort, tailoring the humidity in your house to the season reduces the use of energy for heating and cooling. For most people, a relative humidity of around 60 percent in winter permits a thermostat setting for heat that would be too low in dryer air. In summer, a relative humidity of around 40 percent allows a thermostat setting for air conditioning that would be uncomfortably high in humid air.
Both air conditioners and furnaces dry the airin your house. In summer, that’s usually allright, but in winter and during summers in desert like climes, the airoften becomes too dry. The solution is to install a humidifier at the furnace or to purchase a stand-alone unit. If the airin your house is uncomfortably damp despite heating and air conditioning, consider buying a dehumidifier to pull additional moisture from the air.
At least once a month, check the filter in a forced-air heating and cooling system
A dirty filter can raise your furnace or airconditioner’s energy consumption by 5 to 15 percent. Furnace overheating that can result from a clogged filter can shut down the system completely. Monthly replacement may be necessary even if the manufacturer of the filter you buy advertises that it works much longer than 30 days. The fine mesh of many such filters can actually fill more quickly than that of less effective ones. To check a filter, simply extract it from its slot near the blower.
Clean your heating and cooling system where it delivers the goods
Dust on the registers in a forced-air system can cut its efficiency by 10 percent or more. The same goes for dust on baseboard heaters and radiators. Vacuum these parts of your heating system regularly using a brush nozzle. Unscrew registers from walls and vacuum accessible surfaces inside the ducts. Use a flexible hose rather than a metal or plastic wand, and fasten the brush securely to the hose with duct tape. Consider installing a geothermal heating system.
Remove dust buildup from the blower of a forced-air heating system
Despite the filter in your furnace, the blower that circulates air throughout the house can become caked with dust, reducing its efficiency. Wipe and vacuum dust from the blower blades and the walls of the blower chamber two or three times a year.
Don’t heat water unnecessarily if you’re out of town
Whenever you leave home for a weekend or longer, there’s no point in heating water that no one will use. Either set the water-heater thermostat to its lowest setting or turn off the water heater altogether. Reset the thermostat as soon as you return; you’ll have hot water again in an hour.
Repair leaky faucets
A hot-water valve that leaks just one drop per second can waste as much as 400 gallons of heated water a year. The cost of that wasted ends up on your utility bill. Repairing leaky faucets is a cheap way to save both money and energy, especially if you do the work yourself.
Release trapped airfrom radiators and convectors
Steam and hot-water heating systems lose effectiveness when airpockets develop in the radiators or convectors. Bleed theair from these components at the beginning of each heating season and whenever you hear the telltale knocking produced by air lodged in the system.