From tire alignment to accumulated items, now is the time to prep your car—as well as your house—for an energy-savvy start to spring.
Here in Washington, D.C., the days have been cold and rainy lately. I think we’re all ready to put the worst of winter behind us in one cold-and-flu-filled bundle. That means now is a good time to think about getting ready for spring.
TIPS FOR CLOSING OUT WINTER COMFORTABLY
On the Energy Saver website, you can find many tips for making your home more energy efficient as long as the cooler temperatures last. One strategy I’ve used at my condo is covering my windows with clear plastic films in the winter to cut down on drafts. It is easy to do, inexpensive, and—most importantly—it works!
Another strategy we use during winter is keeping the thermostat turned a few degrees lower than usual while we're away during the day. Not only does it reduce the amount of energy we use, but it’s also less of a shock to the system to come into a hot home from the cold outdoors. Plus, it's a simple step that can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling.
TIPS FOR STARTING SPRING ON THE RIGHT FOOT
But as wintertime winds down, you’ll start thinking about spring and doing some heavy duty cleaning. You might want to begin with your appliances. If you’re tempted to buy new appliances, check their energy rating (the yellow tag on the front). That will help explain the appliance’s actual costs. Also consider how long the appliance will last. If you have to replace it in a few years, it’s probably not saving you money. Energy Star-rated appliances tend to be great values.
Even if you don’t replace your appliances, you might want to get them a tune-up. Our vacuum cleaner wasn’t working properly, so we spent $30 getting a belt replaced—and now it works like new. Having your appliance serviced can be a good option and it will improve its energy efficiency, too.
And the same goes for your car. Winter can be punishing on cars and trucks. Beyond getting the oil changed, think about checking your tires’ alignment; if they’re off, that can affect your car’s gas mileage. Take the opportunity to clean out all the stuff that accumulated in your car over the winter as well. Extra weight makes your car work harder and costs you money.
You can also think about landscaping around your home, so that you create shade on the south and west—the sides that will pick up the most heat from the afternoon sun. And if you live in an apartment with a southern or western face, consider starting to close the curtains or blinds in the afternoon to limit solar heating as the temperature outside climbs. Of course, on nice days, you can leave the windows open and shut off the heat (or air conditioning) altogether.
Keep an eye on the Energy Saver website—there will be loads of suggestions for how you can save energy and money as winter gives way to spring.