Now that we are groggily emerging from our hibernation of sitting on the couch in a Snuggie and binge TV watching while eating cookie dough ice cream, it’s time to think about spring cleaning. On second thought, sweeping the garage, sorting old junk, and throwing mittens in a drawer sounds awful – let’s talk about spring greening instead! Here are a few tips for an energy efficient spring and summer:
Get an Early Start on your Garden
I know there are a lot of UHNers with a green thumb! Growing your own food is a great way get exercise, lower your environmental impact (less food shipped from California), and get great tasting satisfying food! If you are growing from seeds, many crops need to be started indoors before the growing season even begins. I’ve grown my own hot peppers (Trinidad Moruga Scorpions!) the last few years and this year I’m going to try to start from seed some brussels sprouts and basil. Why brussels sprouts you ask? First of all, they are delicious (TV and movies led me astray as a child) and, secondly, I saw pictures of the plant online. I never would have guessed that’s how they grow and had to have them for my deck.
Dust off Your Bike
I get it, biking in winter is not everyone’s cup of tea (Although, winter seems to be becoming less and less of a thing here in Toronto – I checked my stats on Toronto Bike Share and I averaged more than one trip a day through January, February, and March while maintaining a strict no biking on snow/ice policy). Spring is the perfect time to tune up your bike and get the legs moving during your commute or for fun. Toronto Bike Month has a lot of events coming up in May!
Adjust your Thermostat for Cooling Season
Hopefully everyone had their thermostats turned down a few degrees to save heating energy during the winter. Now is the time to start thinking about nudging that dial back up and maybe putting that flannel onesie away for the summer. Every degree increase on the dial knocks down your electricity bill. You may also consider cheaper ways to stay cool, such as opening windows, using window shades, and ceiling fans.
Clean your AC Coils and Filters
Dirty coils and filters can be a major cause of poor performance of an air conditioning system. Cleaning the coils will make sure your AC unit is working as intended. Here is a “how to” article but I would also recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular unit or hiring a professional in AC maintenance if you are uncomfortable doing this sort of thing. For window AC units, it is fairly easy to remove the filter and wash it yourself in the sink. Take a look at it before you start it up the first time to make sure the filter isn’t clogged and preventing air flow through the unit.
Check the Condenser Coil on the Back of your Fridge
A buildup of dust can occur over time, reducing the heat transfer. Vacuuming the dust off can reduce the amount of time the compressor needs to run, saving electricity.
Switch to LED Lights
At UHN, we are constantly retrofitting our older light fixtures to LEDs. The main reason is that they use significantly less energy (40-80% less depending on application), but what you may not realize is that they also generate a lot less heat than equivalent incandescent and fluorescent lights. Less heat generated by your lights can reduce the load on your cooling system.
Now that our spring greening is complete, we can gear up for the hockey playoffs (especially since we have Canadian teams in it this year – Go Leafs Go!) and move into an efficient summer of lounging by the pool, sipping a refreshing beverage, and enjoying the BBQ season!