Daylight saving time: 6 important tasks beyond changing your clocks

Last updated: January 1

It may not feel like it after a long winter, but spring is approaching, along with one of the annual rites of the season. At 2 a.m. on a Sunday each March, 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. Besides setting your clocks forward by an hour, why not us that day to start a habit of other springtime preparations? Here are six daylight saving tasks you can tackle in addition to changing your clocks:

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1. Check smoke and CO alarms

The Red Cross recommends using 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. The National Fire Protection Association recommends replacing all batteries at least once a year and replacing alarms that are more than 10 years old.

2. Change your appliance filters

Dirty filters can cause vacuums, air purifiers, furnaces and other appliances to stop performing at their best, says Consumer Reports. Some filters need changing more often than others, but you'll definitely want to check any appliances that filter air or water, says Consumer Reports.

So, take some time to check on various systems:

  • Furnace and air conditioning air filters
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Refrigerator water filters
  • Dishwasher filters
  • Air purifiers and humidifiers

3. Purge your medicine cabinet

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. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some medicines can be very harmful if they are taken by someone other than the person intended. The Environmental Protection Agency states that some medications can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly.

While many drugs can be thrown out with the household trash, not all of them should be. Follow the FDA's guidelines for proper drug disposal. Many communities also participate in "take-back" days, where thousands of municipalities around the country collect and safely dispose of unused drugs each April. Medication drop-off locations may also be available throughout the year — contact your local law enforcement agency for more information on where a drop-box is located near you.

4. Schedule a cooling system check

As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling, says 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 ENERGY STAR, 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.

5. Test your well

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 solid, 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.

6. Drain Your Water Heater

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 water quality in your area, says Angie's List. While most manufacturers recommend flushing a water heater once a year, Angie's Lists states that you may need to do it more frequently if you have hard water.

To drain a water heater, the only tool you'll typically need is a garden hose, says the DIY Network. Generally, you'll need to shut off the water heater's power and water supplies, and then attach a hose to the unit and 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.