Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you, your families and homes. So far our fall weather has not been as bad as it could be, and there is still time to get some indoor and outdoor projects done.
I will go over a couple of simple projects you can do which will save you money on your water, heating and electric bills.
Electric cord semi-annual inspection (Tools needed: outlet tester)
This is one of the simplest and most important projects to do. Inspect each cord in every room that is in use- check for breaks or tears in the outer protective sleeve. Cords most often get damaged where they get bent or twisted. Replace any cords that are damaged. Also, check all your surge protectors for damage or burn spots. Pick up each surge protector and hold them close to your ear while it is plugged in. You should not hear anything, but if you hear a clicking or humming sound, then it is time to replace it.
Check each with an outlet wiring check device, which cost about $5.00. You simply plug in the device to the outlet and it will detect any improperly-connected wires, and some can detect loose wires as well. If you find an outlet with blackening or chipping, have the outlet replaced by an experienced home repair technician. Doing these things greatly reduces the risk of a fire.
Also, unplug any devices you are not using on a weekly basis, even if something is not turned on it is still using electricity.
HVAC filters and maintenance (Tools needed: Phillips and flat-head screwdriver, vacuum. Parts: air filter and disposable gloves)
Not only does changing your air filters every three months ensures you have cleaner indoor air, it will reduce your heating costs as well. Doing so also reduces the air load on your systems blower and allows you to use less energy for heating as well as moving air. I suggest using a 3-month air filter because they last longer and filter smaller particles. This is also the time to clean off your outer covers for your furnace with a vacuum cleaner. Also check your systems vents- make sure all vents that are needed are open. Vents in rooms you do not use and have no water sources, can remain closed. This may save you on heating cost.
There is also a renewed interest in charcoal air filters, which are much more expensive, but if you have odors in your home from a pet or other source, the extra expense may be worth it. If you use these type of filters, I suggest wearing disposable gloves as the charcoal can be messy if it comes loose from the filter.
Cleaning your vent ducts with a shop vac will also help reduce your heating costs. You will not be able to clean out the entire vent, but you will remove dirt from the largest choking point where your ducts turn to go up into your floor or down into your ceiling.
Water Heater Maintenance (Electric Water Heater. Tools Needed: Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, garden hose and small channel lock wrench. Parts and supplies: pipe insulation, electrical tape or duct tape)
Your water heater needs to be maintained once every 1-2 years. Start with checking your pipe connections for leaks. If you find a leak, call a plumber. Use pipe insulation on your cold water intake and hot water output lines that are exposed to open air. Hot water freezes faster than cold, so if you can only do one, make it the hot water line. You can see what line is hot and what line is cold on your tank. One inlet is blue for cold, one red for hot.
Checking your thermostat
To check your thermostat, turn off the power to the hot water heater then remove the lower cover. Gently pull up the insulation flap and you will see a dual and knob for a flat head screwdriver. Your optimum setting is 120 degrees. If you have children under 2, you may want to set it at 105 as babies’ skin scales at lower water temperatures. Your hot water will come out at about 90 degrees. It is never recommended to set your water heater temperature over 125 degrees unless you are in a commercial setting and a machine such as a high-temperature dishwasher requires a higher setting. Once the temperature is set, reverse this process.