This article originally appeared in The La Jolla Light
Just as with winter, summer has its own set of requirements for home preparedness. Here is a brief guide to get you started.
Check Your Air. If you have an air conditioner, change your filters—this is often neglected and should be done far more regularly than most people do. Also, make sure your HVAC filters are not blocked or clogged. Test your thermostat ahead of time, making sure when you set it to cool and turn down the temperature that it actually cools down. You don’t want to find out your AC is broken in the middle of a heat wave, when the heating and cooling companies have a month-long wait list.
You may also want to check your ducts for leaks, or have any attic insulation checked (and potentially filled in after natural seasonal compaction).
Finally, you may want to consider adding an attic fan or vent to pull the hot air out of your home.
Be Insulated, Not Isolated. During cold and rain, sometimes doors and windows can have a slight separation from the frame. You can easily repair this by applying an external sealant/silicone caulking. Then, make sure your doors’ weather stripping is in good shape and that your doors have a good seal. Check your windows for cracking, splitting, or even peeling of their seals. Having proper seals and insulation will keep the hot air out and, if you use an air conditioner, the cool air in, making your home more energy efficient and your energy bills a little lower.
The Full Window Treatment. Aside from checking the seals on your windows, assess how much sun (and heat) comes through certain windows, and which part of your house takes the brunt (think of how hot it gets in your car when it’s parked in the sun). Without proper protection, you wind up wasting energy when turning up the air conditioning to compensate for this added sun heat. Adding shutters, blinds, or dark curtains can prevent the sun from heating up that room (and then the whole house). Most home goods stores offer inexpensive blackout or SPF curtains and rods, which are easy to install.
For a bigger investment, consider installing reflective film on the glass, or if you’re ready for a bigger, long-term investment, replace your windows with double- or triple-paned glass and with a low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC).
Be a Fan of Fans. Fans use much less electricity than air conditioning units and can work well with your home’s natural cross-ventilation (if your home does have good cross-ventilation access points).
Check and Patch-Repair Screens. This is a small, easy prep item on the check list, even if it doesn’t seem as exciting. But if you’re utilizing your home’s cross-ventilation, think of how important screens will be in keeping out the flies brought out during the day and the moths and other creatures attracted to your home in the evening. Unless you prefer a home filled with bugs or are collecting for your Komodo dragon, in which case, more power to you.
Clean Dryer Vents. When the vent to your dryer gets clogged, warm air blows back into the room, raising the temperature of the whole house. This can be easily cleaned out with a snake.
Call the Tree Trimmer. El Niño brought more rain over the winter, and more rain means more vegetation. However, in Southern California, we dry out easily. Even without the potential La Niña, that extra growth will dry out and provide extra fuel during a potential fire season. Therefore, one of the best ways to prepare for the dry summer months, with likely high winds continuing this year, will be to cut back all the dead foliage, clean out the weeds, and cut back all plants and trees near your house. Old, dry growth makes the perfect tinder, and it’s best to cut back your plants and trees early on and continue maintenance trimming throughout the season.
Go Native. If you haven’t already, now is an ideal season to put in native, drought-tolerant plants. These will require less water during the ongoing drought (especially as we enter the dry months), and will require less upkeep while still keeping your yard looking nice. Ground cover such as aptenia is a common and appealing replacement for lawns, and it has the added benefit of attracting honey bees. Aptenia, however, is not recommended if your home borders wild areas.
There are many other available varieties, most familiar to people being the Coast Dudleya and Giant Chalk Dudleya. A fun statistic: according to the San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego can boast “the greatest floristic diversity of any county in the continental United States.”
Check the Flow. After rains, yards often undergo erosion. When you do (responsibly) water your yard, make sure that the soil is ready to absorb the water, and that the water doesn’t run off into walkways or patios. Go to a home gardening center for a bag or two of soil, and consider adding wood chips or other cover to alleviate rapid evaporation. Also, if you have them, check your sprinklers to make sure they aren’t spraying someone’s car or the sidewalk. Ideally, set them on a timer to go off after dusk, when evaporation will be at its lowest, and your garden will benefit from maximum saturation. Keep in mind, though, if your area has any watering prohibitions during this drought, and only water on allotted days.
Is Your pH Going Swimmingly? If you have a pool, be sure to check your chlorine and pH levels to avoid bacterial growth, on top of irritated eyes and ruined bathing suits.
At Murfey Construction, we’re happy to go over summer preparation with you, as well as any other needs for your home, so please visit us athttps://murfeycompany.com.