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The warmer weather is the perfect time to put your house in order. Getting your home ready for the long summer inside and out will ensure you’ll be ready to enjoy a holiday or just relax outdoors. Try these tips:
Prepare your fire plan. Write and practise the plan so you know what do in an emergency. See the CFA website for more information. In metropolitan areas it's advisable to have a home fire escape plan that is practised regularly.
Keep your home cool naturally. On hot days keep your windows protected, draw your solid blinds or thick curtains with block-out backing. Think about investing in awnings for north and west-facing windows. Reflective film coatings on your windows can help prevent heat getting in through the glass. Remember to shut up the house in the mornings and open up when it gets cool in the evenings.
Got an air-conditioner? Keep your energy bills low. Clean your AC filters each month. Environment Victoria says cooling your home to just 26 degrees should keep you comfortable and save you money - setting your thermostat just one degree cooler can up your cooling bill by 15 per cent. And remember, just cool the room you're in. If you think you're paying too much for energy, go to RACV’s Energy Compare website to research the best deal for you.
Use a fan spinning in the right direction. Set your ceiling fan to counter-clockwise. This will draw heat away, keep you cooler and also be a more effective use of electricity. Even free-standing desk fans are effective and they cost little to run, while your air-conditioner can guzzle electricity.
Get some good insulation. Insulation is a worthwhile investment if you can afford it, particularly if you combine bulk insulation (big batts) with foil insulation (thin sheets). Environment Victoria reports ceiling insulation can cut your energy use by 45 per cent, which means it pays for itself in reduced energy bills. And with the price of energy set to rise, insulating now is a smart way of avoiding excessive energy bills in the future. If you’ve been thinking about installing solar panels, go to RACV Solar to register your interest.
Turn off or don’t use heat-generating appliances. Rather than heating up the house by using the oven in the kitchen, try the microwave or have a barbecue instead. Lower the thermostat on the hot water unit. If your home still has any standard incandescent bulbs, replace them with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. Turn off the computer, computer monitor, television and other electrical devices when they’re not in use.
Clean your refrigerator coils. The condenser coils on a refrigerator remove heat from inside the unit. If they get dusty and dirty, it can cost up to $100 more a year to run your fridge. When cleaning, turn off the power to the fridge.
Clean bathroom vent fans Bathroom ceiling vent fans can collect quite a bit of dust, which can make them noisy and inefficient. Remove the cover and vacuum out any dust.
Bathroom drains. Nothing ruins a good shower like a slow-running drain. To clean bath, shower and sink drains, remove the drain assembly and insert a drain stick in the drain pipe to pull out any hair or other clogs. Some people use vinegar or a little bleach down the drain, allow it to sit for 10 minutes, then flush it with water to kill any mould or mildew lurking in the pipe.
Roll out the barbecue. If you haven’t used your barbecue in a while, check that your gas bottle is in working condition and that there are no leaks.
Don’t broadcast holiday plans. Summer is a great time to get away, but be careful who you tell on Facebook and other social media, as burglars may see this as a chance to target your house. Getting an RACV Home Security system can also keep your home secure while you’re away.
Put away gardening tools. After a long day gardening, don’t leave any tools lying around that could be used to break into your house. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’ve got home and contents insurance just in case.
Invest in a water tank. Summer can get dry; installing a rain water tank can be a good investment for your garden and your back pocket.