The summer heat has a way of reminding us what needs attention around the house.
Here are five projects that can make the hottest months of the year a little more comfortable:
1. Stop wasting energy. If you’re running your air conditioner full blast and your home is still too warm, it’s time to make some energy-efficient home improvements.
For starters, get a home energy audit. A good energy professional will use fans and infrared cameras to determine where hot summer air is leaking into your home—and where your expensive, air-conditioned air is escaping. That will tell you where you need to add insulation and do some serious caulking to cover cracks and holes.
But an audit could uncover bigger problems. For example, if your home still has its original, single-pane windows, your energy bills are likely larger than they would be if you replaced those windows with more energy-efficiency double-pane versions.
And if your central air conditioning system is more than 10 years old, a new one is almost guaranteed to work more efficiently and help lower your cooling bills.
2. Cover your patio. It’s next to impossible to enjoy your backyard when the sun is beating down on a 100-degree summer day. Cool things off outdoors by installing a roof over your patio. It will block those hot sunrays and lower the temperature. That single improvement can help transform a simple patio into a outdoor room that will make your home seem bigger.
3. Replace wooden doors. A wooden entry door in the path of direct sunlight needs regular maintenance because the weather can cause the paint to peel and chip. The result: exposed wood that can crack and warp.
If you’re tired of the constant painting and repainting, consider replacing your wood door with a fiberglass door that looks like wood. Because fiberglass doesn’t expand or contract much when the weather changes—as wood does—it needs minimal maintenance and can go a decade or more without repainting.
Whether you buy wood, steel or fiberglass for your replacement doors, choose an energy-efficient model to help lower your summer cooling bills.
4. Get ready for company. Kids are home from college, relatives are visiting and neighbors are stopping by more often. Is your house ready?
The most-used rooms during this season are the kitchen and the bathrooms. If an upgrade is in order, start remodeling early so the work will be finished by the time summer socializing is in full swing.
If overnight visitors are older, consider upgrading the guest bathroom with a walk-in shower, a higher-than-normal toilet and grab bars on reinforced walls near the toilet and in the shower stall.
In the kitchen, add space by enlarging that room or the attached breakfast nook by adding onto the house or by removing walls that separate the two rooms from each other and from the family room.
5. Prepare the house for vacation. Planning a getaway? Protect your home and your property against intruders before you leave.
Three pre-vacation precautions:
- Add or upgrade your home’s security system with a model that allows you to “check in” from afar via the Internet. New systems have the capability to let the homeowner know if a door or window is open or even if a plumbing pipe bursts.
- Install outdoor lighting on the front and back of the house. You can disguise your efforts at security as landscape lighting that illuminates your patio—which also makes your outdoor room usable after dark while you’re at home.
- Choose more secure windows when it’s time to replace yours. Double-pane windows can be more trouble to break into than single-pane models. And insist on sturdy window locks. Optional extra: tempered glass or decorative security bars.
Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch., MBA, is president of JEB Design/Build in Shreveport. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting www.jebdesignbuild.com.