Getting your house ready for summer is always important. This year, however, it is more important than ever. How to do it right.
In an upgraded world, observing familiar rituals can be comforting. In the summer, some of these rituals are fun: taking in a ball game or making burgers on the grill. And some of these rituals are … less fun, unless you're considering making sure your air conditioner still works "fun".
Still, weatherproofing your house for the summer is necessary, as the only thing less fun than working on your home is paying to have it repaired. (And with the COVID pandemic still in place, you'll likely spend a second summer at home more often than not.)
Below, a checklist of things to check out of your house during a normal seasonal change, plus some COVID-specific tips related to health, safety and perhaps most importantly fun.
In this article:
Inside your house
Yes, it's hot outside, but it's going to have a serious impact on what's inside your walls. Here is a list of things to check in and do before the summer heat goes out of hand.
The air conditioning
Perhaps the most important tip related to air conditioning is to handle it before the weather gets really hot. Installing a window unit can be sweaty to work even in mild temperatures, and buying air conditioning during the first hot weekend during the summer months is a bit like looking for a turkey on Thanksgiving.
If you already have an air conditioner, replace the filter and clean the openings thoroughly before the warmer months. Then turn it on and make sure it still works. (Why clean it before checking that it works? Because if you turn on a dirty air conditioner, it will squirt dust.)
If you buy a new air conditioner, figure out how powerful it should be. Air conditioning power is measured in BTU, so depending on the size of the room you want to cool down, you can look for a 5000 BTU air conditioning unit or something that goes up to 18,000. When calculating what you need, the general rule of thumb is to multiply the current room by 20 to reach the correct BTU, but it is worth using an online BTU calculator that takes into account ceiling height, climate and other factors to arrive at the correct number. You will probably find that your BTU number is expressed as an interval – say 12,000 to 14,000. If space allows, it is best to get a unit at the upper end of the interval, as it will cool the room faster and can be run on shorter time, which reduces your electricity bill.
Most new units have a timer, so they can be turned off when you are out and can come back to cool it just before you return. If you can not find a device with a timer (or if your current device does not have one), get a basic plug-in timer (about six dollars from the hardware store) – it will save you a fortune. (And of course, those with larger homes can investigate whether a smart home appliance, like Nest, can provide similar savings.)
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On hot days, rather than roast-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk, ceiling fans often provide adequate cooling while using a fraction of the electricity required by an air conditioner. If you have no fans, they are worth considering. If you have a ceiling fan, first clean the knives – the tops will be dirty. Remember to clean the space under the fan (due to falling dust and dirt) or lay down an old sheet. Then change the direction of your fan. In summer, it should spin counterclockwise to push cold air down. (In winter, if the fan rotates slowly clockwise, it draws cool air upwards and forces warm air down). Most fans have a small direction switch above the blades. A ceiling fan is an excellent way to reduce energy costs during the summer season.
One tends to think of insulation as something that keeps us warm, but it is actually just as important in the summer. Not only does it keep cool air in and warm air out, it also acts as a barrier against insects and other small animals that spread and look for nice indoor spaces (like your house) when mercury rises.
We have some insulation tips here, all of which are the same for summer and winter (including the options for upgrading your windows). Keep in mind that it may actually be better to deal with insulation in the summer than in the winter – if you have to open a wall or a roof, at least you will not freeze.
Thanks to COVID, ventilation has become a hot topic – if you want to get people to visit you indoors, it is good to have plenty of fresh air movement. When thinking about ventilation, remember that what you want to achieve is a consistent feature. You want air to come in, move through your home and leave. The best way to achieve this may not be to just open all the windows in the room where you are gathering, as you may find that a bathroom or kitchen window open at the other end of the house helps to create proper airflow. If you can not get the attic you want just by opening windows, consider using your air conditioner in "fan" mode along with an open window, which can take air out of the house. Or use a standing floor fan: they do not take up much space and can be stored in a closet when not in use.
Also remember that open windows let in bugs and air. If your windows do not have screens, get some – the hardware store has adjustable ones that fit most windows and budgets.
The second way to make your home more COVID-secure is to reconfigure your space so that guests can stay away from you and your family. Depending on how many rooms you have to play with, this can mean everything from having a larger dining table to placing existing living room furniture further apart and closer to windows. Whatever you can do to create physical distance between people from different households while they are with you, it will help.
Outside the house
If you have people over – whether it's small people for your children to hang out with or their own full size friends – you'll probably see them out this summer if possible, because it's the safest option. If you have outdoor space, whether it is a small staircase or a serious backyard, the key is to make it fun for adults and children, so that you will actually spend time out there.
your grill was idling during the winter, take it out and give it a deep cleaning. Also, make sure you have plenty of propane or carbon and lighters. While doing so, make sure that none of your grilling tools have "disappeared" (ie turned into toys by your children) in recent months.
Small Outdoor Spaces
If you live in an apartment, your outdoor space may be limited to what New Yorkers call a bend – some stairs leading into the building. While this is not ideal for multiple dishes, it is perfect for drinks and snacks with friends. Make sure you have plenty of pillows for the guests, because after an hour or so the news of sitting on concrete disappears. Make sure the cover is easy to wash and because you are sitting on something that others are wearing, you choose darker colors.
A porch, deck and / or garden
Consider whether your porch needs to be repainted or repainted, in which case it's time: the weather is nice and you have not bought any new outdoor furniture yet. Make it look as nice and comfortable as your living room, because that's what it's going to be like in the next few months: add plants, make sure you have enough seating for the guests, and see if any of it needs repainting or rusting. . Get some large pillows for smaller children. Small, stackable tables are also a good idea.
If it gets cold at night where you live, get some blankets for the guests so that people who come in shorts in the afternoon can comfortably hang outside when the sun has gone down.  Pest Control
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, which can mean anything from a pond to a birdbath. Where possible, standing water should be eliminated (eg emptying toys in the yard that can hold water after a rainy day). When you cannot get rid of the water (the contents of your dog's water bowl), change it often so that the mosquito larvae do not have time to turn into winged, biting things.
Your house yourself
Most of the tips above are about taking care of people, but your home also needs TLC. Clean your gutters (mosquitoes love damp gutters) and when you are up there, take a look at your roof to see if it has been damaged during the winter. Take a look at your exterior paint job and siding – does anything need to be smartened up or repaired? This is the best time of year for all such tasks.
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If you have children
If your children have spent the past year at Zoom, summer is the perfect time for them and their friends to return to a non-digital life. Here are some ways to make your home a fun place to be young.
COVID has not only been good for Zoom, Netflix and food delivery apps – it has also increased the demand for home pools of all shapes and sizes. If you have the space and longing for your own water world, remember that last summer all kinds of pools were sold in the backyard, so you should order one now. The options range from paddle pools to something that an adult can use in (short) laps. Just remember to keep an eye on children, especially those who have not learned to swim, all the time while in the water.
Like pools, they come in all sizes and, unlike pools, they can be folded away in the winter. Take a look at this guide to child-safe trampolines and see if one of them might suit your child and their friends.
Badminton and volleyball are fairly COVID-safe games that children and families can play together, and they require minimal equipment, which can be easily stored during the season.
Puzzle & Board Games
If you want your kids to entertain themselves without using screens, this may be the summer to make it happen. Because of COVID, it may be unwise for your child to spend hours sitting next to their best friend and playing video games on a giant TV. So get some board games – introduce your child to the games in your (or your parents') childhood. COVID has not given us many good memories, but your child who plays outside when the sun goes down may turn out to be one of them.
Our Editorial Policy
Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency supported and wholly owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that navigating life insurance decisions, your personal finances and general well-being can be refreshingly easy.
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that is supported and wholly owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that navigating life insurance decisions, your personal finances and your general health can be refreshingly easy.
Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not support the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less difficult if they suit your situation.
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