This post first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money.
Winter is over! Spring is here!
Spring offers many opportunities to save money. Spring makes it much easier to go outside and get some exercise. You can start a vegetable garden. Plus, when you’re outside, you can turn off all of the lights and electronic devices in the house so they’re gobbling less juice.
Besides the joy of being able to get outside, spring also opens up many options for reducing your home energy bill. The drastic improvement in weather means that you’ll be using the furnace less and less and might even start using the air conditioning soon, but you can minimize both of those uses with a few smart tactics. Spring can also help with other aspects of home energy use as well.
Turn off climate control and open the windows. If the outdoor temperature is anywhere between 50 F and 90 F, turn off the furnace and air conditioning and open the windows in your home. It will take a while for that outdoor air to really alter the temperature of your home, so your home temperature will stay fairly stable. You’ll just save because you won’t be running climate control.
Naturally, you should stop doing this if the climate in your home reaches an uncomfortable level, but as long as the temperature outside is pleasant, the temperature inside will be pleasant as well.
Set the ceiling fan to run in a counterclockwise direction. During warmer weather, you want your ceiling fans to blow air straight down, so you’ll want the blades to rotate in a counterclockwise direction when you’re looking up at the blades. Most ceiling fans have a switch on them that changes the direction. (Similarly, when the weather is cool, you want the blades turning clockwise.)
Doing this can keep you from turning on the air conditioning (or the furnace) when the weather is particularly warm (or cool). Just turn on your ceiling fans – which use relatively little energy – in the appropriate direction. If this little tip keeps you from closing the windows and turning on the climate control on an unusual spring day, then it saves you money.
Open the curtains and take advantage of both direct and indirect natural lighting. The light streaming in through your windows allows you to get away with turning on fewer lights in your house, saving a surprising amount of energy.
Of course, direct sunlight has a heating effect as well. Try to avoid direct sunlight when the weather is really warm and the house is getting warm, but when it’s still cool, you should welcome that direct sunlight. It’s not only great for lighting up the room, it can also reduce the costs of heating.
Do laundry and dishes late in the evening. Household tasks that produce heat make sense during the day in the winter where the extra heat will help warm up your house and make your furnace work a little bit less. In the spring, that situation changes – it’s cold in the evening but warm during the day.
Take advantage of that and perform household tasks that warm the house during the late evening hours. Bake cookies. Do the laundry. Run the dishwasher. That excess heat will add warmth to your home and thus reduce the need for home heating during the night hours. If doing this prevents even a single furnace cycle, then you’ve saved money on your energy bill just by doing the things you would ordinarily do at a different time.
Take advantage of spring. Go outside, of course, but also let the nice weather do its work in terms of your home energy use.