As the weather begins to warm up, many homeowners will start performing more tasks around the house thanks to the extra hours of daylight. If you have plans to spruce up your home this spring, add the below items to your to-do list. These tips will help your house perform more efficiently for you all year long.

Stay Cool
ceiling fan
Installing ceiling fans can help keep your house cool without continuously running the air conditioning. Fortunately, many new homes come pre-wired for ceiling fans, making installation easier. Just remember to turn them off when you leave the room to save energy.

While your fans are in use, Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) recommends that you set your programmable thermostat to 78 degrees. According to the GRU, for every degree lower than this recommended setting, your bill could increase by up to 4 percent.

For those days when the temperatures jump off the charts, turn on the air conditioner, but take proper precautions to keep your cool air in and the air conditioner from working overtime. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, ensure that the damper is closed when it isn’t in use. Per, around 14 percent of air escapes the home through an open fireplace chimney, so if it is open, your cool air is flying right out of your home.

Check Filters

Dirty filters limit efficiency and can be dangerous. Filters keep pollutants out of the air you breathe, and they are one of the most important things you can maintain in your HVAC system. Changing your air conditioner’s filter every one to three months can prevent costly repairs down the line, particularly through the summer when you need your air conditioning most. Your air conditioner already works hard as the heat rises, so give it a head start in spring by installing a clean filter.

Mandi Woodruff of Business Insider says a clean dryer lint filter can increase your dryer’s efficiency by 75 percent. A less-efficient dryer means higher bills, so clean out the lint before every load to preserve your dryer and save money.


Cook Outdoors
In the warmer months, cooking in the kitchen raises the temperature of the whole house, which will cause the air conditioner to work harder. Give it a break by firing up the barbeque. Spring is ideal for spending more time outdoors when it’s warm enough to sit outside while grilling meals with the family. Just remember to keep the doors closed when you are outside.


Update Appliances

Investing in your kitchen appliances is a smart move this spring. Look for appliances labeled ENERGY STAR® for maximum savings. A new refrigerator could save you up to $70 a year if you switch from a 15-year-old model, according to the GRU.

Also consider replacing your older washer and dryer as well to utilize less water and electricity with every load. Try to use your laundry appliances in the morning or evening when it is cooler. Using these appliances during the hot day will unnecessarily heat your home, which will cause your air conditioner to work overtime to keep the temperature down.

In addition to traditional appliances, don’t forget to also update your lighting. Spring is the prime time to switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) for your home. A 14-watt CFL will use 75 percent less energy than a 60-watt incandescent bulb and can last up to 10 times longer, according to the GRU. This could save $30 or more over the life of each bulb.


Saving Water

Taking a soak after a day working in the yard might seem inviting, but you can use up to 70 gallons of water in one bath. As long as you don’t take hour-long showers, you could decrease water usage by 33 percent or more by opting to use the shower over the tub.

Make sure your showerhead is efficient or you could be wasting more water than you think. An article on “22 Little Ways to Go Green” in This Old House suggests this tip to see how much water you’re wasting: “Place a 1-gallon bucket under the running water, then see how long it takes for it to fill up. If it’s less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with one that sprays 1.5 gallons per minute.” According to the article, this replacement could save over 14,600 gallons of water a year, which allots to approximately $22 a year on your water bill and $150 on water heating.

Moving into the kitchen, consider replacing your faucet with a low-flow model, which, according to Woodruff, can cut your water bill up to 60 percent and is certainly worth the small investment.

This spring, ensure your house is more energy efficient by following the above household maintenance tips. Whether you use one or all of these suggestions, we hope that these ideas help you spruce up your home’s energy efficiency this spring – and all year long.


Kate Reusink, on behalf of Richmond American Homes, a new home builder in Jacksonville, FL