Household Habits to Lose
by Leslie Leone 02/28/2019
Everyone does it. Everyone develops one or more of these bad household habits that ultimately end up costing time and money. Here’s a list of the top nine, why they’re bad, and what to do instead:
- Setting the wash temperature to "hot"—most clothes do not need washing in hot water. Hot temperatures may result in shrinkage, discoloration, or cause clothes to become misshapen. Cool and warm temperatures clean most items, and modern high-efficiency soaps dissolve just as well in cold water as in hot. So save money on your utility bill and on having to buy new clothes by using the setting listed on the clothing tag.
- Forgetting to clean the dryer lint filter between loads—lint builds up in the dryer filter in EVERY load. The dryer uses the vent to expel extra hot air and moisture. When the lint screen is clogged, the air and moisture can't escape. Not only does this cost extra energy because your clothes don't dry, but it can also cause a house fire. Clean the lint screen between each load.
- Neglecting the HVAC filter—similarly, your HVAC filter needs changing regularly. Depending on the dust, dander, and animal hair in your home, some systems may need new filters as often as monthly, while others can handle a quarterly change. If your family suffers from allergies, however, frequent changes to the filter during winter and summer, when the system runs hardest, improves air quality.
- Pulling plugs out by the cord—whether it's the iron, vacuum cleaner, curling wand, shaver, or blender, pulling plugs out of the outlet by the cord may damage both the wire and the outlet. Grasp the plug by the end and gently extract it from the outlet. If it sticks, do not yank the cord. Instead, carefully wiggle the plug in the socket until it releases.
- Over-stuffing the refrigerator—it's easy to do when you're planning a party, or if you shop just once a week or less, but filling your refrigerator too full can result in frozen food, or over-working your compressor. When food is pushed too far to the back or sides, it can freeze. Refrigeration relies on air movement inside the case to move cold air around, so when something blocks it, that one item gets all the cold. Brrrrrrrr!
- Wearing shoes inside the house—even new shoes, when worn outside for a day, track in dirt, dust, bacteria, and fungi. Leave shoes at the door or in the mud room and slide on some cozy slippers (but don’t wear those slippers outside, even to get the newspaper, or you negate their value).
- Overloading closet rods—whether wooden dowels or wire rack rods, the place you hang your clothes can easily become over-burdened. If you’re stuffing hangers in to place, or the rod is swaying, you're in danger of it breaking. You can easily replace a broken dowel, but a metal rod is useless once bent, and overloading a wire rack can pull the anchors out of the wall, leaving you with damaged drywall and costly repairs.
- Storing items in the oven—baking pans or cast iron, okay … you won't really damage those by turning on the oven to bake, although high heat from the broiler can cause problems, but those stacks of pans are heavy and can bend the oven racks (resulting in lopsided cakes and other oven mishaps). And NEVER store plastic in the oven. Melted plastic can damage the inside of the oven and release toxic fumes into your home. Store extra pans or plastic ware in a closet or even on top of the refrigerator.
- Hanging jackets on the doorknob—tiny set screw holds most of the pieces of the doorknob in place. A heavy coat, purse, or another object can bend the metal, even slightly, resulting in the set screw misaligning and your knob becoming loose.
Good home habits result in savings of time and money since your home and appliances last longer and use less energy. If you need help finding other ways to save on utility bills, contact your local utility provider for a free energy assessment.