We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog post to bring you this message: HOME MAINTENANCE. JUST DO IT. As you know (at least I hope you know or you’ve been operating an hour behind all week!), the time changed last weekend.
We lost an hour of sleep in our “spring forward,” but hopefully, we used this twice yearly event to change smoke alarm and CO2 detector batteries. That message has been pounded into us over the years (and rightly so!), but I’d suggest adding a few more things to that “time change to-do” list. As always, a little maintenance goes a long way toward preventing major home emergencies.
Change your ceiling fans from a “winter” direction to a “summer” one. I’m always surprised how many of my clients don’t know that their ceiling fans are not just pretty accessories. They can really help to ensure that your home is energy efficient. During the cold winter months, you want your fan to rotate clock-wise (and at a slower speed) to distribute heat that has risen to ceiling levels. During the summer, fans should rotate at a faster speed in a counter-clockwise motion to create that beach like breeze and help keep your home cool. For a quick check, simply stand beneath your fan while it is on. If you feel a breeze, you’re already on the “summer” setting.
If you heat and cool your home with a programmable thermostat, check your settings and adjust accordingly. You’ll need to change times to reflect the extra hour of daylight during evening hours. Programmable thermostats are an easy way to save money and use energy efficiently. I recommend them highly. Still, many homeowners don’t use them to their greatest advantage because they don’t know how to program them correctly. Here’s a great resource to help you figure out when and by how many degrees your programmable thermostat should fluctuate throughout the day.
Call your trusted HVAC friends to schedule a furnace inspection. After a long winter of heavy use, furnace filters, motors and blowers may have collected debris. If clogged, your furnace won’t run as efficiently and you’ll pay more money in electric bills, so this simple task is a no-brainer. Consider setting up an inspection and maintenance schedule. The US Department of Energy recommends changing furnace filters once a month. I recommend asking someone else to do this for me!
Similarly, you should also have your hot water heater inspected for optimal efficiency. We actually do use more warm water during the winter, so our heater gets an extra workout. It’s a good idea to perform a sediment flush at least three times a year to help prolong your hot water heater. Also, if you turned up your hot water heater in November, you can probably turn it down a few degrees now. Most of my clients find that setting their tank-based heaters to 120 degrees is sufficient for all their hot water needs. If you’ve never checked or changed the temperature on your hot water heater, it is probably set to the factory default of 140 degrees. That means that you’re paying to heat water you are not using!
Speaking of water… if you have a sump pump or water alarms in basements or crawlspaces, you should check to ensure they are operating properly. April showers are just around the corner and you don’t want to be caught with a mini flood because pump batteries are dead or lines are clogged. This project will literally take five minutes, but it can save you so much stress, worry and financial strain later.
Okay… so completing this list will take a bit longer than that hour that you lost last weekend. I promise you, though… the time you invest now in basic home maintenance will more than pay for itself later. Consider it an added insurance premium that you pay to protect your biggest and more important investment: you home!