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Energy Efficiency

Seven Steps to a Safer, Spotless Spring

Clean and beautify your home with care

Here are seven ways to avoid mishaps, maximize efficiency and beautify your home as you embark on spring cleaning and other projects this month.

1. When using a ladder or step stool, ensure it is placed on a stable surface and that you are wearing nonslip shoes. Be mindful of any health conditions or medications that may cause dizziness or vertigo. And be certain there are no power lines nearby.

2. Mirrors are a lovely way to increase light and open up a smaller space. Placed strategically, these affordable accent pieces can add a breath of fresh air to your home. For the most impact, situate mirrors across from visually appealing or interesting items—a fireplace or window is ideal.

3. When applying insecticide in or around your home, be sure it is human- and pet-friendly if you have small children or four-legged family members. The same goes for plants—many beautiful succulents can be toxic to pets. Doing a little research before adding to a garden can help protect your loved ones.

4. Make sure to wake up on the right side of the bed each morning after a good night’s sleep by investing in blackout draperies or shades for bedrooms, increasing efficiency and comfort by reducing heat gains.

5. Dust ceiling fan blades and attached light fixtures and bulbs. While doing this, you also can change the direction the blades move by flipping the small switch just above the blades. In preparing for summer heat, you want the fan to push air down into the room to help cool it off, which is achieved with a counterclockwise spin. In winter, the reverse applies.

6. Salt is an excellent multipurpose home cleaning product. Use a handful dissolved in 1 gallon of warm water to clean a refrigerator’s interior nonabrasively and without releasing any chemical fumes. You also can apply salt to a cut lemon half to lightly scour and polish brass. Just rinse with warm water when finished, and it should shine like new. A similar method works to clean wooden cutting boards. Sprinkle coarse salt onto the surface, squeeze juice from a lemon onto it, then scrub with a small brush to work the mixture into the cutting board. Finish by rinsing in hot water, and after allowing it to dry, enjoy your newly disinfected meal prep tool.

7. Save more than a few pennies by investing in a programmable thermostat. While some “smart” models cost more, a basic programmable thermostat can cost as little as $30 and, used properly, can net a 10 percent savings on the heating and cooling portion of your electric bill. Set it to around 68 degrees during waking winter hours (and lower while asleep or away), and set it to 78 degrees in summer (and higher while asleep or away).

Have a fridge in need of deep cleaning? Break down the task into manageable pieces using these steps.
1. Clear everything out of the refrigerator, taking care to separate items that will be thrown out from those you will be keeping.
2. Remove shelves (if possible).
3. Using a solution of salt and hot water, wipe down all interior surfaces.
4. Wash shelves in warm, soapy water and dry before replacing.
5. With a damp cloth, wipe down exterior of all items before returning them to the fridge.