As summer draws near, most of us are looking forward to spending time outdoors, enjoying the weather and taking full advantage of all that Chicagoland has to offer. However, summer can also come with its own set of challenges for your home. From higher energy costs, to extra stress on your home’s critical systems, to the damage that can be caused by summer weather, a bit of maintenance can prevent the kinds of problems that can ruin your carefree days. Learn a few tips and tricks to reduce your summer home maintenance costs.
1. Do An Energy Audit
Energy costs spike in the summer months, as appliances and air conditioners work overtime to keep up with the heat. Ensuring that your appliances and HVAC system are in good working order can save on energy bills, extend the useful life of your appliances and systems, and, most importantly, keep you cool and comfortable during the hot summer months.
If your air conditioner’s filter is more than six months old, now is the time to replace it — a dirty or clogged filter can cause your HVAC system to work harder, drawing more expensive power and placing additional strain on its components, thereby shortening the life of the system. A fresh filter will also ensure that you’re breathing fresh, clean air indoors, which can help prevent allergies and asthma.
If your HVAC system is not performing, a professional can diagnose and fix small problems before they become big headaches. If it’s been more than a year or two since you’ve had your system cleaned, inspected, and serviced, this is the time to have it serviced. Because spring is still the “off-season” for air conditioner technicians and service professionals, having your system inspected, serviced, and cleaned in the spring can save you money and get you prepared before summer’s warmer weather arrives.
Once you’ve got your air conditioner ready to supply fresh, cool air, it’s time to make sure that energy isn’t wasted cooling the outdoors. Harsh Chicagoland winters can erode weather stripping, so checking to be sure that windows and doors are well-sealed is an easy way to be sure that you’re getting the most bang for your energy buck all summer long.
Spring is also a good time to make sure your other appliances are working properly, and to replace or repair any appliances that are inefficient and increasing your energy costs. If your energy bills are higher than you expect, your refrigerator, washer and dryer, water heater, or inefficient lighting may be the culprit. Replacing or repairing old or wasteful appliances can save you money in the long run, as well as preventing an inconvenient breakdown.
2. Check Your Sprinklers And Landscaping
As we get ready to spend more time outdoors, making sure that your home’s outdoor areas are in tip-top condition can not only make your evenings more enjoyable, it can help to reduce your overall maintenance costs.
When the ground freezes in winter, sprinkler pipes can burst and sprinkler heads can become clogged or blocked, causing expensive water waste. Testing your system in the spring to make sure it is functioning properly can save you money during the summer, when your system is likely to be most taxed.
Unfortunately, your sprinklers aren’t the only part of your landscaping and outdoor areas that can be damaged by a harsh winter. To avoid water intrusion into your home during summer storms, make sure your landscaping drains away from your home, and that there are no low spots or erosion near your home where water can puddle and damage the home’s foundation or structure.
And while you’re outdoors, take a close look at your home’s outdoor lighting, ensuring that it’s working properly and that its cords or connections have not been damaged or corroded by snow and ice.
3. Inspect And Switch The Rotation Of Your Home’s Fans
If you rely on ceiling fans to circulate air through your home during the heat of the summer months, spring is the perfect time to make sure those fans are working properly, and switch their direction. Check that your fan’s blades are tightly connected and that ceiling fans are not wobbling or vibrating excessively when in use. Carefully dusting your fans can help to ensure that dust and allergens don’t circulate inside your home, shortening the life of your home’s air filter.
Switching the rotation of your fans to counterclockwise helps to make them more effective at circulating air. A counterclockwise rotation pulls warm air upward and pushes cool air down. This small switch can allow you to set the thermostat a few degrees higher without sacrificing comfort.
4. Clean The Garbage Disposal And Grill
Summer is the most social season, and this year, we’re all looking forward to spending time with family and friends gathered around the barbeque. But first, it’s important to make sure your tools of the trade are ready for the task.
Making sure your grill is cleaned and in good working order can prevent catastrophic accidents. Check all elements of your grill for rust or corrosion, ensure that all tubes and hoses are clear of debris, and empty any charcoal or debris that has accumulated inside your grill. To clean your grill’s grates, soak them overnight in a solution of vinegar and baking soda, then scrub to remove any additional debris. Making sure your charcoal barbeque, smoker, or gas grill are clean before summer starts is an easy, DIY way to reduce your risk of a dangerous fire while extending your grill’s lifespan.
Likewise, spring is a great time to clean out your garbage disposal, before friends and family begin arriving for summer cookouts that are likely to put an extra strain on your kitchen’s capacity. To clean your garbage disposal, pour a solution of vinegar and baking soda into the unit, allow the solution to soak for 10 minutes, and then run the disposal with a mixture of ice, salt, and running water. The vinegar and baking soda loosen debris and oil, allowing the abrasive mixture of ice and salt to clean the disposal’s blades. Running some lemon peels through the disposal after it’s been cleaned will help to give the kitchen a fresh, clean scent. (Remember to always exercise caution when cleaning your disposal, and unplug or switch off the unit before putting your hand inside it.)
When Home Means More, You Need a Team With More to Offer
Ready to find the home that will make this the best summer ever? Let us help! Home is about so much more than just four walls. Buying or selling a home is a big deal, and with everything we’ve experienced recently, our homes have never been more important. That’s why your local Baird & Warner agent is with you at every step of the way, from finding the perfect home to connecting you with local experts in mortgage and title. Whether it’s the beginning of a story or the end of a chapter, we’re here to help.