While you’re spiffing up the house this spring, don’t neglect your appliances:
Dust the refrigerator. Refrigerators exchange heat through a system of coils. A buildup of dust and pet hair will make the unit run longer to have the same cooling effect and use more electricity. Vacuum the coils on the back and underneath to increase efficiency.
Dust the lamps. A buildup of dust on lightbulbs and lamp shades can reduce the amount of light given off, maybe causing you to turn on more lights. Keeping them dust-free will let lights shine as intended.
Clean the oven. Cleaning your stove/oven can actually save energy. A range or oven that is darkened from heavy use can absorb more heat and ultimately reduce its efficiency.
Clean the dishwasher. Even a cleaning machine needs a good cleaning every now and then to remove food, built-up detergent and other grime that could prevent your dishes from getting their cleanest and your appliance from working efficiently. Empty the dishwasher and place a bowl of distilled white vinegar on the top rack. Run a full-length, hot water cycle. Next, sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run it again. Finally, leave the door open for a while to dry it out.
Run vinegar in THE washing machine once a month. When you wash your clothes in hot water, the machine cleans itself. Still, once a month or so, run an empty load on the hot cycle with about a cup of white vinegar. When the cycle stops, wipe down the inside of the machine to get rid of any leftover scum and germs. Let it dry thoroughly.
Vinegar in the microwave, too. Fill a glass bowl with water, distilled white vinegar and a sliced lemon. Place it inside the appliance and microwave on high for three or four minutes. When you open the door, steam should pour out. While the inside is still wet, wipe it down with a dry cloth.
Clean countertop appliances. You probably clean your coffee maker, juicer, food processor and toaster every time you use them, but do you clean them thoroughly? Make time to do that now. Take apart any pieces that detach and wipe them down with a clean, damp cloth. Run the appliance with a white vinegar and water solution so the inner workings get clean, too. Thoroughly dry all parts immediately.
Change your filters. The air filter on your furnace/heat pump should be checked monthly for signs of dirt and changed every three-six months, depending on dirt accumulation. Buildup obstructs air flow and makes your HVAC system less efficient.
Clean your dryer. Lint buildup can prevent your clothes dryer from running efficiently. To clean the vent, first unplug the dryer. Then remove the tubing from the back and vacuum in and around it. If you are able to remove the front panel of your dryer, vacuum inside it as well.
If you don’t have access to the dryer vent tubing from the dryer to its outside vent because it’s in a wall or ceiling; cannot dismantle, clean and reassemble the sections yourself; or just don’t want the hassle of doing it yourself; hire a professional maintenance technician to clean your dryer vent annually — more or less frequently depending on how much laundry you do. A vent closing up with lint will cause the dryer to leave clothes damp or make it run longer. Too much buildup of lint can pose a fire hazard.
Audit your home. With warmer temperatures coming, now is a great time to consider taking your energy savings to the next level. Most electric cooperatives have energy advisors who will come to your home and conduct a thorough inspection to identify both large and small things you can do to improve its energy efficiency. Give your co-op a call.