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Home Maintenance and Spring Cleaning

It's 55 degrees, the sun is shining and it's only the beginning of April, to me that means 80's tunes, open windows, garbage bags full of unused items and all the cleaning supplies I can find. That's my part, my husband on the other hand, has his ladder and tools out, the garage radio blasting QCountry and is working on a list of his own. Spring cleaning at it's finest. But, what is on your list besides loading garbage bags full of donation items?

Here is a list of home maintenance tips that will keep your home running efficiently all year long and save you some money too!

Home Maintenance

Energy Audits

You want your house to run like a well oiled machine. All of its parts in good working order and most of all, you want to be sure you avoid costly repairs and save money in the process. Energy audits can help you achieve both of these things.

Energy audits can help you figure out where you are losing the most energy and help you tackle high-priority problems first. An energy auditor will check a variety of things around your home including your windows, walls, eaves, and attic to see of they can find any areas that may cause leaks into or out of your home. Then they check your insulation to be sure it was installed properly, paying special attention to holes where electrical lines have been run to be sure they have been sealed correctly. They will also check your furnace and water heater and most likely take a look at your filter to let you know if it needs to be replaced. Lastly, they will want to look at your lighting and whether or not you are using LED's (light-emitting diodes) or CFL's (compact fluorescent lamps). (

Once the auditor completes his audit, he will review the report and make recommendations for you. Best case scenario, he has a few lightweight suggestions such as changing out your lightbulbs. Some larger fixes could include more insulation or window replacements. Either way it goes, having an energy audit done could save you loads of cash throughout the year.

Money Saving Tips

There are many steps you can take on your own to ensure the efficiency of your home. Doing just a few of these things can reduce your electric/gas bill and improve the longevity of your home, and appliances.

Heat and cool your home more efficiently by installing a programmable thermostat. These are pretty inexpensive to purchase and very easy to install. When used correctly, you could save 10-30% on your heating and cooling bill.

Install ceiling fans. Ceiling fans are the most basic way to save. Energy efficient ceiling fans move air to help you feel cooler in the summer and help push heat down in the winter months.

Ensure proper insulation. A lack of insulation in the attic, walls and around windows and doors means you are throwing away money. Remember when your mother used to yell, "We aren't heating the outdoors!"? This is what she meant, sort of. Without proper insulation and sealants around windows and doors, you are letting the warm air out in the winter and the cold air in or vise versa in the summer months. Be sure to check and replace, if needed, the weather stripping around your windows and doors.

Seal your HVAC ducts. Sealing your ducts to prevent leaks is more important if the ducts are located in an unconditioned area such as an attic or vented crawlspace. If the supply ducts are leaking, heated or cooled air can be forced out of unsealed joints and lost. (

Insulate your water heater and pipes. Just like insulating your walls or roof, your hot water tank is an easy and inexpensive way to improve energy efficiency and save you money. If your water tank is new, it is likely already insulated. If you have an older water tank that is not insulated, consider insulating it to reduce standby heat losses by 25-45%. (

Keep your appliances well maintained. This helps them function better, which saves energy. Service your appliances regularly, such as your AC unit, washer/dryer, furnace and refrigerator.

Change your HVAC filters as needed. Keep your dryer vents clean (this is especially important due to fire hazards). Check your toilet and faucets for leaks. Clean your gutters and downspouts.

You can examine the exterior of your home for damages, look for wood rot, holes and major foundation cracking.

When in doubt, take the worry off yourself and have a home inspection done for you. A home inspection will cover all visible areas of your home and provide you with a professional, easy to read report that tells you which areas need attention so you can turn your radio up, open your windows and enjoy the fresh spring air.

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