Feature

Spring clean your power bills

Reduce your energy bills by giving your home appliances a spring clean to reduce clutter, dirt, and unnecessary power use.

spring-clean

It's important to clean your ventilation and air-conditioning systems regularly – especially in spring as you'll need them in the coming warmer months.

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For many Australians a spring clean is restricted to drawers, wardrobes, and garages. But did you know that it’s important to spare a thought for your appliances as well?

Giving your appliances a spring clean will see them operating efficiently throughout the summer and take the chill out of those energy bills to put it back in your home.

You can also reduce unnecessary clutter and standby power costs by only having the appliances that you really need. Choose a few good quality appliances that you’ll use and care for properly; your newer appliances tend to be more energy efficient, but make sure that you really do need them before you buy new, and recycle any old, really inefficient appliances properly at an e-waste facility or collection point near you.

Clean up – literally

Start your spring clean by wiping-down all the runs on your sliding doors and windows, as dirt and grime build-up can cause more air to move around. Remember, if you feel air or a breeze coming in under doors or around windows, it means that cool air will be escaping in summer, and warm air will escape in winter as well. Then, make sure to seal-up any cracks around your doors and windows really well with a sealant, such as strips from
Moroday that come in a range of widths.

Tips for air conditioners

While owning, or using, an air conditioner should be your last resort, make sure if you do have one that you have it serviced at least once every two years. The filters should be cleaned out monthly, and up to every two weeks if you’re using it regularly in the peak of summer. Clogged filters make air conditioners work harder costing you extra dollars on your energy bill.

Now turn your attention to the outdoor parts of your air conditioning unit and ensure they get some much needed spring cleaning love after being neglected by the other seasons. One thing you can do yourself is check that there is nothing blocking the inlet and outlet point as this will reduce the efficiency of the unit.

Set your thermostat to a cool 24 degrees. Every degree lower will increase your energy consumption by about five per cent. Ensure you shut off doors to rooms that you’re not using – otherwise you’re paying to cool empty rooms; this wastes energy, and of course this will show up on your energy bills.

If 24 degrees is still too warm for you, turn on a ceiling or floor fan, as this helps circulate cool air around. Before you use any fan, make sure to clean the dust off that may have collected over winter. In addition to being unhealthy, all that extra dust in the air will end up in your air conditioner’s filter, wasting all your hard work, costing you more money, and wasting precious energy.

Pool considerations

Jumping in a pool is a great way to cool down, but pool pumps also come first in being the biggest energy guzzler in the home. In houses that have them, pool pumps can account for up to 15 per cent of the total energy bill. If you really must have the pool, make sure the pump pipes are all cleared from blockages so they don’t have to work harder. You can also give your pump more of a break and save energy by manually scooping all that debris out, and by emptying the basket regularly.

And even better way to maintain a pool if you have one is to install timers so you don’t have your pool pump operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week – this way no one forgets about it. Also, check the setting on your pool pump: you don’t need it operating on the highest setting all the time. Operating on the lowest setting will save you energy and money.

If you’re lucky enough to have your pool operating efficiently, make sure you invite the neighbours around to share the love too! Or, if conventional pool maintenance is just too much time, chemicals, effort, money and energy, you might like to consider turning your pool into a natural pool, which provides habitat for wildlife, and you can still swim in it whenever you like – without the chemicals or energy use.

Tips for year round

Don’t stop here, look around at all your appliances and ensure all filters are regularly emptied and cleaned. Dust gets everywhere and it can affect the efficiency of everything down to your laptop. Start cleaning and start saving!

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Julie Moore is the director of Save Energy Save Money.

For more energy-saving tips for summer, check out our other features as well, including Cool retreats, Keeping your home cool, Instant Expert: Insulation, and Guide to a zero-carbon home.