Spring is the time of year that’s usually associated with extra cleaning chores, but there are many important cleaning and maintenance jobs to tend to when the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to fall. Using eco-friendly cleaning products and reusable cloths is always the first step to keeping a green home, but there are five essential steps you should take to ensure your home is clean and green this autumn.
- Clean and Maintain Appliances
Making sure the major appliances in your home are in good working order will keep them running more efficiently which means using less energy. Pull the refrigerator and deep freezer out from the wall and vacuum the exposed coils. Replace your old air conditioner filter and check the seals around refrigerator and freezer doors and replace any that are cracked or broken. Replace the filters in your heating vents and hire a technician to give your heating system a checkup. Find a contractor that is a member of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.
- Start a Compost Pile
The debris from cleaning gutters and trimming the landscape in preparation for winter is great material for a new compost heap. You don’t have to grow a large garden to benefit from composting; spread it under shrubbery, mix it into patio pots and rake it into the lawn as a natural fertilizer. Toss grass clippings, vegetarian food waste and any yard clippings (minus pet waste) into a pile or a bin, toss occasionally and before long you’ll have rich, fertile, organic compost.
- Check Your Thermostats
Many water heater models have a default setting of 140 degrees F. Not only is that about 20 degrees hotter than needed for efficient use but it puts your family at risk for scalding. You can save around 4 percent in utility costs for every 10 degrees you lower the water heater thermostat – even more if you wrap it in an insulating blanket.
About 34 percent of the average homeowner’s utility bill goes to heating the home. When it’s chilly indoors, don a sweater before turning up the heat. For each degree you turn the heater down you’ll save around 4 percent off your monthly energy bill according to the EPA.
- Solar Light the Way
With the longer nights of fall and winter coming, properly lighted outdoor walkways are more important than ever. Fall is the perfect time to install solar lights along sidewalks, paths and anywhere security is an issue. Illuminating your landscape with solar exterior lighting enhances the look and safety of your property while also making it more usable after the sun goes down.
- Check Doors and Windows
A lot of heat can be lost through doors and windows that aren’t properly sealed. Check the weather seals around your exterior doors, if they are torn, bent or worn it’s time to replace them. Make sure windows are properly caulked and storm windows are in place. While you’re there, go ahead and clean your windows with a blend of vinegar and water. Clean windows will allow more light and warmth to pass into the house.
If spring is the season to clear out unneeded items and freshen the home after a long winter, then fall is the time to prepare your home for harsh weather and long hours spent indoors. Completing basic maintenance chores in the fall will decrease the amount of energy that’s needed to keep your home a safe and cozy, and green, haven.