In the past five years alone there has been an overwhelming movement toward a greener lifestyle for both individuals and businesses. Solar panel installation has skyrocketed and people are beginning to wonder what of their daily routine can be changed or adapted to both save energy and do right by the environment. While you can’t change the year your home was built, there are many ways you can improve the eco-friendly nature of your lifestyle simply by the way you clean. This year, you could significantly lower your power bill, increase the efficiency of your home and make an environmental difference without additional spending or even permanent changes a landlord might not like just in case you’re renting. Here’s how:
1) Open and Clean Your Vents
A significant portion of your power bill is eaten up by your HVAC (Heating, Vents, and Cooling) system and how hard it has to work to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Of course, the vast majority of homeowners hardly even notice the key players in this equation: the vents. Those little white vents all over your home are where the heat or cold comes out of and if they’re closed or clogged, you’ve been wasting power. Carefully pull down each vent with a screwdriver and polish them to a shine before replacing them. If you also wind up with decades worth of grime on your paper towels, all the better that it’s no longer blowing through your home now.
2) Change Filters Everywhere
Speaking of efficiency, every single appliance in your home that features a filter has one for a reason. These filters make sure the air in your vents and water in your tap is clean. However, a filter that’s filled up with dirt and grime is no longer useful and can actually act to hinder the efficiency of the appliance by slowing the air or water that flows through it. Check your vents, water heater, AC, furnace, dryer, and even your coffee machine for unchanged filters, and make sure to change them at least once every 6 months. This will boost the efficiency of every appliance you maintain and drop their daily energy consumption significantly.
3) Running Efficient Laundry Loads
Laundry is one of the great luxuries of modern life but it’s also huge power consumption, especially the dryer. There are several ways to get more eco-friendly with your laundry ranging from washer settings to load size so you can pick and choose the techniques that work best for you and your household.
- Wash clothes on cooler settings
- Wash on ‘Hot’ for sanitizing only
- Fill the washer with every load
- Consider a Clothesline instead of the dryer on nice warm days
- Leave room in the dryer for tumbling
- Open the dryer halfway through and flap a towel for improved airflow
- Clean the dryer exhaust hose
4) Cleaning the Appliances
You may be surprised how much the cleanliness of your appliances matters for their efficiency. While polishing the surfaces is always nice, the most important area to focus on is, of course, the floor where their vents are. Make sure to sweep and mop under and around your washer/dryer and remove all stray lint from the area. If it’s a tight area, try a Swiffer or moving the machines slightly to get around them.
As for your refrigerator, which is an undeniable beast of electric consumption, cleaning it both inside and out is best for optimal performance. However, the most important way to clean your fridge for efficiency is underneath. A lot of hair, lint, and kitchen crumbs can build up right where the motor and vents are located. Clear this all out and dust every component you can reach to improve cooling and power use.
5) Reverse Ceiling Fan Rotation
Normal ceiling fan configuration, the fan turns counter-clockwise and the shape of the blades pulls cold air upward for cooling and air circulation. As it gets colder, you’ll want to reverse your fan so that it starts blowing warm air that settles near the ceiling down onto you instead. While you’re still using the same amount of energy to move your ceiling fan, your heater won’t have to work nearly as hard to achieve a cozy temperature and you get pleasant, refreshing airflow without freezing your toes off.
6) Dust All the Time
Dust isn’t just the enemy of household tidiness, it’s also an adversary of energy efficiency. Dust on electrical equipment forms a blanket that can interfere with efficiency, trap heat like a fluffy blanket, and clog up ventilation. The more dust builds up, the less efficient your appliances get and the more likely they are to overheat. Don’t just dust what you can see, go hunting for places that dust might be hiding in your equipment. Just remember to unplug appliances before dusting their elements.
7) Polish Your Power Outlets
Take a good hard look at one of your power outlets, you might be amazed at how dirty they can get. That combination of dust, dirt, and grease can interfere with an efficient connection and might eventually cause your appliances to malfunction or draw more power than necessary. To safely clean, remove the outlet covers and polish them to a shine, then take a q-tip and touch up the inner-outlet underneath before replacing the cover.
8) Washing the Windows
The managing temperature in the wintertime is a complex process of heater settings, vent cleaning, filter changing, and of course, your windows. The best way to keep your home warm enough is to have heavy curtains drawn at night during the coldest part of the day and clean, clear glass to let in as much warm sunlight as possible. This means that clean windows, inside and out, are your best bet for spending a little less on heating each day.
9) Recycle Everything
Any massive wave of cleaning is bound to come up with at least a few things that are trash or no longer useful to you. Rather than simply chucking everything into the same bin, take the time to sort and organize what you want to get rid of. Recycles in the recycle bin, compost what you can, and donate anything that’s still nice to a local charity. These are all eco-friendly ways to reuse what would otherwise get tossed into a landfill.
10) Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
The final way to clean your home and help the environment is to use eco-friendly cleaning products. Look for items that are low in toxic chemicals from companies that use environmentally friendly business practices. Recycled paper towels are a great place to start and choosing your surface cleaners might be a little more complex. The good news is that once you find an eco-friendly brand you like, there’s a good chance they’ll make most of the products you need.
Going green doesn’t require a big investment, installation, or lifestyle change. With just a few new techniques at home, you can improve the efficiency of your appliances, reduce your power bill, and efficiently recycle almost everything.
Last update of the article: 11/20/2020.
About the Author
Jen is your go-to guru for crafting a cozy, green cocoon. 🪴 Her dive into sustainable building wasn’t just about saving the planet—it started as a mission to make family movie nights eco-friendly (and to ensure the popcorn was the only thing getting heated!). With a knack for breaking down the jargon, Jen turns eco-lingo into everyday language. Swing by the Green Living blog for a mix of earth-loving advice and home improvement hacks. Whether you’re just dipping your toes into green waters or you’ve been swimming in the deep end of DIY projects, Jen’s here to guide, giggle, and remind you that every eco-choice is a step towards a planet that thanks you… and maybe even sends a rainbow your way! 🌈