Spring means many things to the homeowner. It’s time to tackle that long awaited spring cleaning list. Time to service the lawnmower and weedeater and start the annual spring lawncare routine. It’s a good time to start planning your garden if you have not already done so. It’s a great time to build ponds, to tackle a remodel or other do-it-yourself home repair chores, and even a great time to catch up on your honey-do list. Most importantly, spring is the perfect opportunity to review your home and its utility systems for ways you can save on energy. Here are some energy saving tips that are easy to perform and that can save you substantially on your home energy bill.
Turn down the thermostat on your water heater
- Have you had work done on your water heater over the winter? Perhaps you had it replaced. If so, now is a good time to remove the water heater element covers and double check the thermostat settings.
- Most new electric water heaters come from the factory with the thermostats preset to 120 degrees. But it is important to make sure of those settings.
- The upper thermostat and lower thermostat should be set to the same degree or setting. Some thermostats are labeled A, B, C, instead of degree numbers. Still, make certain that both thermostats are set to the same point.
- If you have a gas water heater, make sure that the thermostat is set to low. That approximates 120 degrees in most cases.
Service your furnace
- If you have not yet done so, now is a great time to have your furnace serviced.
- Change the air filter. Electrostatic air filters are more efficient than the old fashioned pleated ones.
- Be sure to clean the air plenum where the air filter is located.
- Vacuum out the burner chamber being careful to avoid the igniter which is very delicate on newer energy efficient models.
- If you hire an HVAC company to service your furnace, ask if they will check your ducts too.
- Make sure that your ducts are all intact and that the joints are sealed. This is a major source of heat loss. Ideally, the ducts should be insulated, as well.
- Ask the furnace repairman if they will inspect and test the heat exchanger. A cracked exchanger can cost you money and is dangerous in that it can emit carbon monoxide fumes.
- Do not neglect to inspect the furnace chimney and vent duct work. Make sure they are clean, well supported, and properly sealed.
Replace all the showerheads
- Replace the showerheads in each bath.
- Simply grasp the showerarm with one smooth jaw wrench like a Crescent or adjustable wrench and place a second one on the showerhead. Turn it counterclockwise as you look at it to unscrew it.
- Make sure the new showerhead states that it is low flow.
- Inspect the new showerhead port for a rubber gasket. If there is one, there is no need to use pipe joint compound on the threads. Do not use teflon tape either.
- Simply make sure the gasket is in place and screw the showerhead on. Tighten it snuglyand orient it downward.
- If the new showerhead does not come with a rubber gasket, place some pipe joint compound on the threads and install the head. You may also use teflon tape for this.
Replace faucet aerators
- Each kitchen and bathroom faucet with the exception of the tub spout comes with an aerator. This is a small threaded filter-like fitting that screws directly into the end of the faucet spout.
- Aerators wear out just like other parts of your water system.
- Simply unscrew the aerator and replace it with a new one.
- Make sure the aerator gasket is in place.
- Do not overtighten the aerator. Just snug it up with your fingers.
- Aerators come in a bewildering array of styles, finishes, and thread combinations. Take your old one down to the plumbing company, your local hardware, or home center to match it up with a new one.
- Even if you cannot find the right one, there are adapters available to change from one thread style and size to another. Simply purchase the proper aerator adapter and screw it into the end of the aerator, then screw that assembly into the faucet.
Before removing the element and thermostat panels on your electric water heater, turn off the circuit breaker to that appliance and lock it out or place tape over it stating, “DO NOT REMOVE”. Double check that the electricity is indeed off with an electrical tester before making any adjustments to the appliance. Water heaters run with 240 volts of electricity and that is enough to inflict severe injury or even kill.
Practice good safety measures when working around gas or electric furnaces, water heaters, or other appliances.
Take the time to go over your whole house and examine it for any places where you can add or replace weatherstripping, caulking, insulation, or trim.
All of these items wear out over a period of time. Replacing them ensures that you have done everything possible to make sure that your home is energy efficient, safe, and secure.
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