Spring chores can help cut energy costs, avoid costly repairs

Filed in Maintenance by on May 18, 2014

Longer days. Gentle BreeHow-to-clean-your-air-conditionerzes. Warm sunshine. Many of us begin looking forward to spring as soon as the Christmas lights are put away. And even spring chores – raking lawn, cleaning gutters and downspouts, washing windows and trimming trees and hedges – seem appealing when we think about mild weather. After all, these chores are the perfect excuse for spending more time outdoors after our long winter.

But before you begin your spring projects, prioritize your list. Complete those tasks that can help ensure your safety, reduce energy costs and avoid costly repairs down the line.

Safety is first

While you’re out in the yard, take a few minutes to look for safety-related problems. Examine your electrical service entrance for signs of exposed wires. Check outdoor electrical outlets for loose-fitting plus or broken covers, and make sure they’re all functioning properly. Call a licensed electrician to repair any problems. If you have young children, install locking outlet covers.

Inspect gas grills of leaks and repair or replace hoses and fittings.

Notify your electricity provider if you spot tree branches that could damage power lines during a storm.

Maintenance pays back

Seal leaks – Air leakage can account for as much as one-third of a home’s heat loss. Sealing leaks is good preparation for winter, and this low-cost item will pay back in just a few months. But don’t wait. Sealing all the places where various kinds of material meet on the outside of your house has summertime benefits, too. If can help block bugs and rodents from entering your home as well as prevent future repairs related to water damage and mold formations.

Note the condition of caulk and putty around the windows, doors, vents and pipe and wiring access points. Remove hard and cracked material and replace it. Now is also a good time to replace broken glass and worn weather stripping.

Also check your siding for holes, loose joints and cracked mortar and your foundation for fissures. Inspect your chimney for damage to its cap, flashing and masonry. Use appropriate materials to seal any openings. Remember to save or receipts for materials purchased to apply toward available tax credits for home weatherization.

Tune AC systems – Examine your air-conditioning system, too. Make sure the filter is clean, that the unit is level and has proper clearance and that plants and bushes aren’t preventing proper air flow. If it’s been some time since the unit was serviced professionally, schedule a service call. The first 90-degree day, when HVAC companies are swamped, is not the time to learn that your air conditioner doesn’t work!

Turn on water – Remove any insulation from outdoor faucets and turn on the water. If you have a sprinkler system, check the sprinkler heads. Thoroughly inspect water supply lines, faucets and garden hoses for leaks, and make any necessary repairs.

Interior projects make home healthier

A chilly or rainy day is the ideal time to perform indoor maintenance. It’ll pay dividends not only in the cleanliness and respiratory health but in reduced energy costs and avoided repairs and replacements.

  • Clean the grill and fan blades in your bathroom exhaust fans.
  • Wash the filter and fan blades in your range hood.
  • Clean your dehumidifier and start operating it, if needed.
  • Remove lint from your clothes dryer vent and duct. Make sure that the vent closes completely and that the duct is sealed.
  • Clean your refrigerator’s coil and drain pan.
  • Drain sediment from your water heater and check for leakage or rust.
  • Vacuum vents, baseboard heaters and cold-air returns.
  • Install fresh batteries in smoke detectors.

List is long but time needed is short

Yes, the list of spring chores looks long, but remember that many of them take only minutes and will make your home safer, lower energy costs, avoid more costly repairs and delay the need to replace equipment. You could complete a good share of these tasks in a single morning – and still have time for that relaxing, leisure-time activity you’ve really been looking forward to all winter.

by Theresa Drexler, Otter Tail Power Company


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