Keeping your home healthy and as efficient as possible will help you and your family save money and reduce exposure to toxic products. This article will summarize some basic maintenance tips to help keep your home as eco as you want it.
Get your calendar out and get ready to set yourself recurring events to remind you when it’s time to do some basic home maintenance!
Refrigerator — Cleaning the coils and compressor unit on your fridge is usually a pretty easy job. It helps remove caked-on, hard-to-reach dust that might harbor bacteria and other health hazards, and that dust also makes your fridge work harder than it has to. Many times, you can lower the coldness setting on your fridge and freezer after cleaning the coils, and that means energy savings and a longer life for your fridge. Here’s an article on how to clean your fridge coils and compressor and some common challenges you might encounter.
- Tools — screwdriver, lint brush or bottle brush, dust mask, goggles, vacuum.
- Frequency — 1–2 times per year, more if you have pets.
- Impact — a reduction of the electricity your fridge uses.
Laundry — Your washing machine could use a monthly cleaning. It’s simple — just run an empty load with a cup of white vinegar, in hot water. This prevents mucky buildup of things that smell bad, meaning your clothes will just smell nicer and carry with them less potential infectious agents. The other half of laundry is the dryer, where, just like the fridge, a buildup of dust and other materials can cause clogs that make it work harder than it has to. This happens in the lint screen (which most people clean between each use), the lint trap (the slot that the lint screen slides into, which most people never clean), and the lint vent (the metal tube for exhaust that comes out the back of the dryer). Here’s an article about how to clean the lint trap, screen, and vent of your dryer.
- Tools — rotary dryer vent tool, screwdriver, dust mask, goggles, vacuum.
- Frequency — washing machine: monthly. Dryer: 1× per year, more if you do a lot of laundry.
- Impact — better smelling clothes, reduction of energy used by dryer. Also, clogged dryer vents cause up to 3,000 house fires per year in the U.S.!
HVAC — The most important maintenance tip is to just change your filter when it is getting clogged. Same concept as the above — a clogged filter means the AC has to work harder than it otherwise needs to. We recommend a filter alarm device (there are many on the market), or just set yourself a reminder in your calendar to check the filter once a month. Here’s an article on cleaning your furnace motor for optimum efficiency as well.
- Tools — screwdriver.
- Frequency — check the filter once a month and replace as it looks dirty.
- Impact — electricity savings.
Sinks — A clogged sink is not really about energy efficiency, but it’s just gross. It can really ruin your day. And it does end up having people panic and pouring gnarly chemicals down the drain which can offgas into your house. So, for maintenance, you can do a natural drain cleaner regularly, just to keep the pipes clean, and then have a sink plunger around when things do clog up — it usually does the job, avoiding chemicals.
Toilets — Checking a toilet for a leak can help you save a lot of money on your water bill. Here’s how to test for a toilet leak and how to fix many common toilet leaks.
- Tools — toilet dye tab (or dark food coloring).
- Frequency — whenever you hear a leak or see running water in the toilet.
- Impact — according to the EPA, 10% of homes have toilet leaks, wasting an average of 90 gallons a day!
Gutters — Believe it or not, cleaning leaves and other debris out of your gutters helps your home be more energy efficient. The reason is that backed up water can leak into your attic and reduce the efficacy of your attic insulation. Here’s more on the how and why of cleaning gutters.
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