Summer Tips for Your Home

Summer Tips for Your Home
Longer days mean shorter nights. Don't forget to adjust your outdoor lighting timers. You'll save money and extend bulb life.
Low-voltage outdoor lighting systems are inexpensive to buy and operate, simple to install and safe. Soft reduced-voltage lighting will highlight the attractiveness of your home and garden.
Avoid excessive lighting levels on the patio and in other outdoor living areas. Illumination should be just bright enough for safety and for relaxing on summer evenings. Install a timer, or better yet, use patio lights only when needed.
Grass is a fast-growing, high-maintenance ground cover that "browns off" quickly in dry weather. Other ground covers such as clover and other low-growing, spreading plants require less maintenance and are more drought resistant. Your local garden centre can advise you on alternatives to grass that will thrive in your area.
Gas lawn mowers are a major source of air pollution and smog in many areas. Electric mowers pollute less and are much quieter too.
Consider using electric grass and hedge trimmers instead of gas-powered trimmers. Well-maintained manual trimmers are preferred by many expert gardeners and professionals.
A broom will clean your driveway and walkways as effectively as a gas-powered leaf blower; it will also save money and boost your popularity with the neighbours.
Plan your garden with the changing seasons in mind. Shelter the south side of your home from summer sun with deciduous trees. Evergreens will protect the north side of your home from icy blasts.
Why shut out the summer? Keep your home comfortable without air conditioning on all but the hottest days by minimizing heat penetration into your home.
Shelter sun-exposed windows with awnings and shrubbery. Keep your blinds and draperies closed on hot, sunny days.
Keep windows closed in the heat of the day. Open windows in the cool of the night.
Your attic gets hot in the summer -- temperatures of up to 65C (150F) are common. Insulation in your attic protects your home from excessive heat penetration in summer and cold penetration in winter. Invest in attic insulation for year-round comfort and efficiency.
Make sure roof ventilation is adequate to prevent heat buildup in summer and moisture buildup in winter.
Use floor and ceiling fans to create gentle breezes to keep you and your family comfortable.
If your basement is dry, use the furnace fan to circulate cool basement air throughout your home. Maintain your furnace air filter at peak efficiency to reduce indoor pollen levels.
Use compact fluorescent lighting wherever you can. Compact fluorescents use very little energy and produce much less waste heat than incandescent and halogen lights. In general, you will find lower indoor lighting levels more pleasant in warm weather.
Turn on your range hood when cooking to exhaust waste heat from your home. Coordinate meal planning with the seasons. Remember, nothing tastes better than a cold salad on a hot day.
Keep your oven door tightly closed. Use the oven light to check on progress when baking or roasting.
Timers and meat thermometers save energy and help you avoid overcooked meals.
Select right-sized pots and pans with tight-fitting lids and cook at lower temperatures to reduce energy use. A six-inch pan on an eight-inch element, for example, wastes 40% of the element's heat output.
Make full use of microwave ovens in hot weather. Microwave cooking can reduce energy consumption by two-thirds and produces much less waste heat than your stove. Toaster ovens and slow cookers are also a great way to reduce energy use in the kitchen.
Convection ovens consume up to one-third less energy than standard ovens. Heated air is continuously circulated by the oven's fan, for more even heat and reduced cooking times.
Full loads only, please, when you run the dishwasher. Use your range hood when the dishwasher is operating to vent excess heat and humidity outdoors.
Vacuum your refrigerator's cooling coils every three months. Excessive dust buildup will reduce the energy efficiency and life expectancy of the compressor. Make sure there are no gaps in the door seal.
Don't overfill your refrigerator-freezer; cool air needs to circulate freely throughout the interior of the appliance.
Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator before cooking.
Use food storage containers with tight-fitting covers to prevent excessive moisture buildup in your refrigerator and to reduce energy consumption. Covered containers will prevent unwanted flavour transfer too.
Get rid of that old beer fridge in the basement. An inefficient refrigerator with an ill-fitting door can cost hundreds of dollars per year to operate.
Your freezer works best when it is filled to capacity. Place covered plastic water-filled containers in your freezer for maximum efficiency, and buy the smallest model that will meet your needs.
Label frozen food clearly to minimize the amount of cold that escapes when searching for specific items.
Upright freezers are generally more expensive than chest freezers and are 10-25% less energy-efficient. Defrost your freezer whenever ice buildup is more than 1/4 inch thick.
String up a clothesline. You'll save money and your clothes will smell summertime-fresh.
Don't use your washing machine for a few small items; wait for a full load. Use the cold water cycle whenever possible.
Clean the clothes dryer filter after each load, and clean the dryer duct regularly. Clogged filters and ducts restrict airflow, decrease energy efficiency and can be a fire hazard.
Inspect and maintain your cooling system. Simple measures such as cleaning and replacing clogged air filters can reduce cooling costs up to 10%. An annual service call will extend the life of your expensive cooling equipment and boost efficiency.
Don't forget cooling system ductwork. Leaking joints, elbows and connections can boost energy consumption 20 to 30%. Use duct mastic to seal loose joints.
Shade your air conditioner from direct sunlight.
Adjust your air conditioner's thermostat when you go out, and shut your system down when you are away for extended periods. Unneccessary cooling costs money.