Lower Your Utility Bills – Part 4: Routine Home Maintenance
|August 27, 2014||Posted by Tracy Knutsen under Frugal Tips and Tricks|
You’re busy. And when you’re busy, you have a tendency to let little things slide. Unfortunately, one of the first things you let slide is those awful, tedious, boring home maintenance projects. It can wait, right? Wait another week; another month; another year. By putting off those minor maintenance issues, your mechanical systems are not running at the peak of efficiency. Some maintenance is so simple, it seems it wouldn’t make a difference. But, it does. Let’s look at the most obvious maintenance items that often are overlooked:
Start with the simplest thing you can do to maintain your furnace; change the filter. We have two units with filters in the most awkward, hard-to-get-to places places that it would be so easy to just blow it off. But we don’t. It’s just that important and will have a huge impact on your bills. Even if you have an older furnace, you can keep it running at its best by changing the filters often. Dust and debris get caught in the filters which cause the entire system to work harder, become inefficient, costing more money to run. Mark your calendar and change your filters at least once a month to prevent problems from sneaking up on you.
Have a professional heating expert inspect your furnace and duct-work once a year. This is not expensive and could save you big money in the long run. They will check for leaks for both safety and efficiency and make sure everything is properly insulated and running well. At some point, investing in a new, high efficiency model may be wise. The return on this investment in monthly energy use could mean you re-coup your costs in just a few years.
Air conditioner units, whether part of your heating unit or separate, need maintenance, as well. Be sure you remove any debris, lawn clippings, and furniture away from the exterior unit. These items can block air flow and force the unit to work overtime.
Window units need to be dusted, washed, and inspected for seals along the support and closures around the framing. If you cover the unit in the winter, be sure that when you uncover it, you wash all the debris from the unit and frame thoroughly. A brush will help remove debris from the fins and grating.
Air conditioners work by removing moisture from the inside air and draining it to the outdoors. Be sure these lines are clean, in good repair, and not blocked. If you have any concerns, call in a professional to replace them. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure filters are cleaned and changed properly.
A water heater works hard and could use some of your attention. Draining the unit once a year and removing the sediment that naturally builds up will extend the life of your water heater. It will also run more efficiently giving you even more savings. I have to admit we went about 8 years in our home before we had this done, but now it’s an annual task – and pretty easy, too. Also, be sure you keep the area around the water heater clear of debris. Your heating unit needs air to burn clean and at peak performance. Don’t make it struggle through dust bunnies, lawn chairs, stacks of paper bags, Christmas ornaments, or stored clothing. In other words, give your water heater breathing room.
If and when your water heater needs replacing, you should seriously consider newer options for energy efficient units. Tankless water heaters are becoming very popular because they heat up water as you need it, at the source. This is a money saver after the initial installation and needs little maintenance.
Make time for these simple home maintenance chores. Your home’s mechanical heating and cooling equipment will operate smoother, longer, and with more efficiency. You can see how the savings would add up!
Continue through the rest of the series here, and start saving money today!