Tips to ‘summer-ize’ your home

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

Winter gets all the attention.

We complain about the cold months and do everything we can to prepare for them, sharing tips and tricks and DIY tales of how best to keep the cold air out and the warm, cozy air in.

But just as you can prepare your home to best battle it out with old man winter, so too are there steps to be taken in order to welcome back the summer months and capitalize on beautiful weather and your home’s ability to keep you comfortable.

Thankfully, many of the things you may have already done to keep your home insulated against the winter can also see gains during summer. If you have added insulation to your home, applied caulk or sealant to drafty joints or windows, or even set a schedule to change your filters on the regular, congratulations! You’ve taken steps that will also help to keep conditioned air in your house instead of allowing it to seep out and be replaced with warmer, more humid air.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of changes to make during the summer that are just the inverse of steps you may have taken in the approach to winter. Switch the toggle on your overhead ceiling fans so that the fanblades are pushing the air down instead of drawing it up and around your room. Clean out and close or seal your fireplace flue until you are ready to use it again next fall. Go through your home and reopen any closed vents or registers that may one have kept warmer air from going into rooms that didn’t need it during the winter, and close the ones to rooms that don’t need to be kept as cool.

Also check your thermostat and change the schedule (if it’s programmable) so that your fan runs often to keep air circulating around your house, as well as to drop the thermostat a few degrees overnight. Allowing your AC unit to kick on a few times overnight will help to take some of the humidity out of the air in your home that builds up while you sleep, allowing for your home to be much more comfortable both while you’re in bed, and when you’re finally ready to leave it the next morning.

Speaking of air conditioners, make sure yours is in good shape by calling an expert in to do regular maintenance on it or check for freon leaks, and by ensuring your AC unit is kept clean of dirt, grass and other detritus that can clog intake filters and make your unit work much harder than it needs to.

The summer months mean stacked burgers made at home, and experts recommend using outdoor cooking appliances like barbecues more often than your kitchen oven and stovetops, as the heat produced by those appliances escapes into the air and make your kitchen warmer than it would be otherwise, adding more dollars onto your energy bill at the end of the month. Another helpful cooling hint is to cut down on the amount of sunlight shining into your home during the day by closing your south-facing drapes or blinds during the hottest hours, and reopening them once direct sunlight has passed. Also consider swapping out old incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs or LED bulbs, both of which use less energy and produce less heat than filament bulbs do.

Finally, consider adding a few new routines to your spring cleaning schedule. Dust out your vents and have your ducts cleaned for maximum air conditioner efficiency. Make sure your eaves are cleaned out of old leaves and gunk to keep water from overflowing them and potentially running down inside your home. Clean off your refrigerator coils to ensure your appliance is running at peak capacity. This won’t necessarily help your home stay cool, but can cut down on electricity costs associated with the appliance. And give your dryer’s lint trap a good vacuuming, all to keep your clothes clean, your dryer efficient, and to remove a possible fire hazard.