Updated March 2015
It may not feel like it after the winter we’ve had, but spring is approaching, along with one of the annual rites of the season. At 2 a.m. Sunday, March 8, daylight saving begins and clocks throughout the United States will be set forward by one hour (except in Hawaii, Arizona, and some overseas territories).
That means that, while mornings will be darker for a while, we’ll start enjoying more daylight in the evenings. So, besides setting your clocks forward by an hour on Sunday, why not use the day to start a habit of some other springtime preparations? Here are six daylight saving tasks you can tackle beyond changing your clocks:
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends using the daylight saving time as a reminder to tackle basic smoke alarm maintenance: Test alarms (there’s a test button on all alarms, and it takes a few seconds), replace all batteries (the NFPA suggests doing it twice a year), and, if your alarms are more than 10 years old, replace them, the NFPA says.
Dirty filters can cause vacuums, air purifiers, furnaces and other appliances to use more energy, according to EnergyStar.gov. Some filters need changing more often than others. For instance, EnergyStar recommends changing furnace and air conditioning filters monthly during the months you use these appliances. So, take the day to do a check on various systems:
Whether it’s aspirin, antibiotics or any other kind of prescription or non-prescription medication, if you’re not taking it anymore and/or it’s past the expiration date, you should consider disposing of it responsibly. Some medicines can be very harmful if they are taken by someone other than the person intended; others can be harmful to the environment.
And while many drugs can be thrown in the household trash, according to the Food and Drug Administration, not all of them should be. Here are some FDA guidelines for proper drug disposal and a list of community “take-back” days, where thousands of municipalities around the country will be collecting unused drugs in April.
As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling, says EnergyStar.gov. So schedule a tune-up of your cooling system now to make sure your unit is running efficiently when the mercury starts to rise. According to EnergyStar, as part of the inspection, your HVAC pro should check your thermostat settings, tighten all electrical connections on motors, lubricate all moving parts, check the condensate drain, clean air conditioning coils, check the refrigerant level, and clean and adjust blower components.
If you own a property with a well, you likely know that it’s up to you to make sure the water is safe to drink. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest testing your well each spring for potential mechanical problems and to identify basic water contaminants, like total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. Of course, if you notice a change in the color or taste of your water, you should test more frequently, the CDC says. And there can be other contaminants that are specific to your area.
Your best bet, according to the CDC, is to check in with the local health department, or another water professional, to identify additional contaminants that should be part of your test. The Environmental Protection Agency has additional tips on keeping your well safe.
The water in your water heater needs to be flushed from time to time to remove sediment that can build up and reduce the unit’s efficiency. How often you need to drain the system depends on the unit itself, and how often you’re using it (how many people are in your household?).
The process is relatively simple: You need to shut off the power and water supplies, and then attach a hose to the unit and just let the water drain. Here are more detailed directions on getting the job done.
Getting your house in order before the warmer months is more than just a good feeling: It can also make your home safer and keep it running like a well-oiled machine. Then, all that’s left to do is enjoy the longer evenings that have just arrived.