Does anyone really like fall cleaning? Well, knowing it might help with your energy bills could make the chore a bit more palatable – and who knows – perhaps you can even enlist some help. Then you can relax sooner - with a cup of coffee and a good book!
Windows and Drapes
Cleaner windows let in more sunlight, which can help a bit with radiant heat from the sun in the winter. So get out that newspaper and ammonia based window cleaner and get them squeaky clean.
Triple track storm windows can accumulate debris in the tracks and on the sill with the screen down in the summer. To make sure the storm piece fits snug, take a clean rag and simply wipe out the tracks. Clean the sill where the storm sits, so storm fit is tight. These storm windows generally have weep holes that allow water that may collect in the sills to drain out, so keep those open. But the rest of the frame should fit well.
Let curtains envelope the room. In the summer, light weight curtains look pretty gently blowing in the summer breeze. But in the winter a heavy weight curtain helps keep the cold air out. Glass – even triple glazing – doesn’t provide the same insulation level as what you have in your walls. Warm air in the room hits the cold glass, cools, and forms a draft near the window. So at night closing the shades and curtains helps to reduce that air flow, keeps the heat in, and reduces drafts
Pooling drapes look elegant. As you clean and reinstall them this fall be sure they do not cover any floor registers, radiators or baseboards.
If you haven’t had a Home Energy Solutions energy assessment, now is a good time to call. Certified professionals will find and seal critical air leaks in your home which will reduce drafts and make your home more comfortable.
Radiators, Baseboard and Registers
Radiators – old houses can have some of the coolest looking radiators! It’s great to come in from sledding and warm cold hands near the radiator. If you have radiator covers, fall cleaning is the time to vacuum the grill and bottom area thoroughly. The radiator works by heating cool air near the floor and sides. As the heated air rises it pulls more cool air around it to heat. So it is important to keep the area around the radiator clear. If the grills or bottom area are blocked by dust – or dog toys – the air cannot get to the radiator.
Baseboards – same holds true for baseboard heat. Make sure the grills are in their open position for the heating season. Clean the grills and check under the baseboard for any little items. Who knows you might even find some coins! ChaChing!
Floor registers – generally a hot air system is balanced with all of the registers open. So this is the time while you are fall cleaning under all of the furniture to make sure the registers are all open and free and clear of any furniture. This holds true for returns as well. The warm air will not flow out of the register if the cold air cannot be returned to the heating system through the return. Vacuum the grills too. Clogged grills will restrict the air flow into the room making your system work harder than needed.
Furniture – if you moved a chair or couch for the summer, put it back in a winter position that does not block the floor register. If you can’t avoid it then look into an inexpensive air register extender. They are specially made to fit under a chair or couch so the warm air can flow into the room rather than the bottom of the furniture. Ask your HVAC specialist if these would work for your home.
Air Conditioners – if you have separate window AC units and can take them out – DO. If not invest in a cover and be sure the weather-stripping is tight. If you have a central AC, remember to close the vents in your rooms. No sense in heating the AC ducts in the winter.
Lights and Electronics
Having good interior lighting in the winter is a must. Dusty shades and lights reduce the light coming into a room, so you might want to have more turned on. Simply cleaning shades and lightly dusting the globes helps to get the light into the room. Fall cleaning is also a good time to take a look at your table lamp shades. Lighter colored shades with wider base opening provide more light where you need it. Don’t forget to clean any ceiling mounted fixtures and lights.
Fall cleaning is also a good time to re-arrange furniture to maximize indoor home use with lighting. Move lamps closer to where you may be sitting and reading in the winter.
TVs – computers – ugh all of those cords. Where does that dust come from? To extend the life of your electronics dust off their backs too.
The condenser coil located either at the bottom or the back of the refrigerator is critical to cooling and the ultimate efficiency of the unit. While you might regularly vacuum the bottom of the unit, fall is a good time to clean behind the unit. Refrigerators are one of the higher energy users in home, so doing all you can to make it as efficient as possible helps.
Can Redecorating Save?
Now that all is clean – splurge and add a bit of warmth to your rooms – and you might even save a bit of energy.
Floors – Bare hard wood floors are nice in the summer, but adding carpets in the winter can help you feel a bit warmer. Unless you have radiant floor heat, add carpets to your bare floor areas for the winter months, particularly on the first floor.
Make your home a castle. Ever wonder about all those wall coverings in European Castles? While they certainly were works of art, they also helped keep the drafts out. So add insulated drapes in the winter to your own castle. During the day push them to the side to cover the wall area and let the sunlight in.