Spring has officially sprung, which means it’s time to unfurl from hibernation mode and blossom into a more energizing state. This is the season when many decide to take inventory of their environment and clean out the things that no longer serve them. And you should too, because the transition between winter and summer is the perfect time to rejuvenate your home and let the fresh air flow in.

But, as you enjoy the steadily rising temperatures, don’t forget that it won’t be long before the brutal heat of summer sweeps in, driving us to kick our air conditioners into full gear. To avoid excessive electricity and energy costs, you want to make sure you are using efficient and updated systems and that your home is well-equipped to keep you cool without breaking the bank.

Spring cleaning the natural way

In this year’s spring cleaning efforts, take advantage of the wide range of opportunities to save energy and money. Below are some of the most crucial areas of your home you should address, as well as simple ways to prepare your home for the warmer weather.

Fans and filters

It’s hard to enjoy the fresh air breezing in through the open windows if it is being circulated by dirty equipment. Time to dust off all those hard-to-reach ceiling fans! And, while you’re at it, you should check to make sure they are working properly.

No, we don’t just mean making sure they turn on – although that would be a good place to start.

“Spring is the perfect time to lower energy costs by improving the efficiency of your home.”

To reduce the electrical power used by the fans in your home, adjust the direction of airflow so it pulls cool air up. In the winter it should push warm air toward the floor. Optimizing your fan settings can increase their efficiency and power, which can help prolong the need to turn on your AC.

You want the air in your home to circulate, but you also want it to be safe. It doesn’t really matter how cool it is if it is also contaminated. This is why you should also apply your spring cleaning initiative to the filters in your home. Replacing filters helps ensure your HVAC system isn’t working harder than it has to, meaning you aren’t wasting energy. Ideally, this should be done every one to three months.

We know it can be pretty difficult to remember to do this. You have enough to worry about as is. But you might be more inclined if you consider that doing so can save big bucks. Energy.gov pointed out that switching out dirty filters with fresh, unclogged ones can lead to as much as a 15 percent decrease in energy usage. And you know what the means? Lower bills!

Window treatments

When was the last time you gave all the windows in your home a good scrub? Having a hard time remembering? After you give them a well-deserved cleaning and they are looking shiny and new, consider what kind of energy-efficient window treatments you could install that will help keep the intense heat of the sun out.

Applying films or shades can help keep your home cool and reduce energy costs. Try not to  get too extreme with the black out curtains though, since you should be using every opportunity to lower your electricity bill by illuminating your home with natural, rather than artificial, lighting.

AC units

One of the biggest culprits of high electric costs is an outdated air conditioner. And you certainly don’t want to wait until you’re in the throes of a heat wave this summer to realize your system needs to be replaced. This is you should take the time now to fine-tune your AC and determine whether it is as energy-efficient as it could be. Check the filters, refrigerant levels and evaporator coils. But, most importantly, make sure it has a high energy efficiency ratio, or EER.

According to Energy Star, using one of its qualified units can reduce energy costs by at least $100 annually. If you are looking to replace your AC, keep in mind that bigger is not always better. To avoid excessive spend and consumption, buy one that is appropriate for the specific size of your home. And if you already have an energy-efficient HVAC system, it won’t hurt to schedule a maintenance inspection from a local provider. Better safe than sorry!

That wasn’t so bad, was it? Sure, you may still have a long list of spring cleaning chores to take care of. But just think of all the energy you’ve saved by addressing these tasks first -and the extra money you can now put toward celebrating all your hard work.