Spring cleaning time is here-that special time when your kids groan and complain through each chore and your spouse finds a reason to be out of the house. But you know a secret they don't. Not only does a clean, fresh house make you feel happier and more relaxed, but it also helps you save money, conserve energy, and lower your monthly utility bill.

It's true! You'll be surprised by how much money you'll save by completing a few extra deep-cleaning projects this spring. Below are five chores that will improve your home's energy use. If you have questions, speak with your local plumbing and HVAC specialist, who can help you learn more about energy efficiency.

Spring Cleaning Tip #1: Fix Leaks

Did you know that your leaky kitchen faucet and running toilet are quietly dripping money down your drain? The average American has a household full of leaks, and those leaks amount to more than 10,000 gallons of water each year. All of that water represents hundreds of dollars that you could save on your water bill-and all it takes is a quick visit from the plumber.

You may be able to easily fix a few of these leaks yourself. But there may be hidden leaks that are causing damage and a higher monthly water bill. Your plumber can visit your home, repair leaks, and replace older, water-wasting fixtures. Your water bill will immediately reflect the results.

Spring Cleaning Tip #2: Maintain Your Air Conditioner

Dirt, dust, debris, rusted parts, clogged filters, and even closed vents make your air conditioner work harder to keep your home cool. The warm summer months are just a few weeks away and you'll turn on your AC any day, but if your AC has to waste energy just to keep your house at a comfortable temperature, your bill will be much higher than necessary.

Your HVAC specialist can ensure that your AC is working at optimum functionality by inspecting your heating and air conditioning system. He or she will clean parts and vents, make small repairs, and prevent future, more expensive repairs. A maintenance check will help you save money on your monthly bill, but it will also save you money in the long run by granting your AC a longer life.

Spring Cleaning Tip #3: Clean Refrigerator Coils

Not surprisingly, most of your electricity in the home goes toward powering those big appliances like your washing machine and refrigerator. Your refrigerator devours power, and if its coils are dirty or the temperature is set too low, it will raise your utility bill by astronomical amounts each month.

Carefully move the refrigerator from the wall, unplug it, and then remove the dust and debris that has settled on your refrigerator's coils. You can probably use the hose of your vacuum cleaner, but you may need to use soap and warm water to dislodge all of the dirt. Wait for the coils to dry completely before plugging the fridge back in.

You should also raise the temperature of your fridge by a few degrees (the optimal range is 36-38 degrees Fahrenheit for the fridge and 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit for the freezer). If possible, move your fridge away from external heat sources (like the oven and the dishwasher), and clear out clutter and old leftovers. All of these things will improve your refrigerator's efficiency and lower your electricity bill.

Spring Cleaning Tip #4: Landscape

Believe it or not, the plants in your yard have a large impact on your home's energy efficiency. It's a subtle impact, true, but it represents big savings over time.

For one thing, you should ensure that there are no plants growing near the exterior component of your air conditioner and that there are no plants growing too close to your foundation. Plants clog your vents and allow water to enter your home.

You might also consider planting trees around your home. Tall evergreen trees on the west and north sides of your home block the wind and lower heating costs each winter, while deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves each fall) on the west and south sides of your house shade and cool the house each summer.

Spring Cleaning Tip #5: Declutter

Getting rid of broken furniture, old clothing, expired food, and your other little-used possessions will make it easier to clean and keep tidy. It's also proven that a decluttered home helps you to feel relaxed and calm. But decluttering also affects your home's energy efficiency-without even realizing it, you may have placed much of your clutter in front of vents, which prevents air conditioner efficiency.

As you declutter, consider what you should throw away, what you should donate, and what you can sell. You may be surprised by how much you can sell online and by how much it will add to your wallet.



Need more help lowering your energy bill each month? These spring cleaning chores are a great beginning, but they're just the start. Talk to your HVAC and plumbing specialists about how you can continue to save each year.