Springtime means spring cleaning time, and as you dust off the broom, clear out the closets, and scrub the counters, you can also make sure your home isn't cleaning out your wallet.
A great place to start: Cleaning off your refrigerator’s coils, gently. The dirtier they are, the harder the machine has to work to keep cool. Clearing those dust bunnies could save you about 6 percent on your fridge's electric bill – and depending on how big a unit you have and how old it is, that could be a dollar a month or more you put back in your pocket.
Tony Botelho, the parts department manager at appliance vendor Poirier Sales and Service, says the key is to work gently and be prepared for a mess. “Just go back and forth, and have a vacuum by your side because it's going to get dusty and dirty down there."
Cleaning your vacuum is also a good way to save money but extending its life. Before you launch your spring cleanup, wipe down the canister inside and out. Use an old brush or comb to remove debris that may be stuck in the rollers, and check the belts for wear and tear.
Now’s also a good time to check and clean or replace your air conditioning filter. It’s not yet warm enough to have the air conditioner cranking, but it will be soon, and when it is, a unit with a dirty filter can suck 5 to 15 percent more electricity than a clean one, wasting you up to $20 a month. “The ones with a frame you can stick under the sink and clean them up,’’ Botelho said. “The ones with the foam, you just replace them. They're inexpensive, $3 or $4 for a filter. Very easy to do."
For your spring cleaning exercise, consider making some economical homemade cleaners. You can clean appliances, countertops and inside your oven with a solution of baking soda and water, polish furniture with a cloth dipped in cool black tea, and shine your silver with non-gritty toothpaste.
And as you de-clutter, think about donating unwanted clothes or furniture to Goodwill or the American Red Cross for a tax deduction, or head online to sell your goods, at sites like ThredUp.com for kids’ clothing, Gazelle.com for smartphones and other electronic devices, and Amazon.com for turning books into gift cards.