Prepare your home for summer
Get your home ready for summer with these top tips for summer-proofing your house.
With long days and warmer weather approaching, now is the ideal time to start thinking about summer-proofing your house. From having a fire plan to learning how to cool your home, naturally, here are our expert tips for preparing your home – inside and out – for the long hot summer ahead.
Get your outdoor area ready for summer by giving your dining table and chairs a wipe over, and sweeping the patio or deck.
How to prepare your home for summer
Adjust your ceiling fans
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.
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.
Dust bathroom vents
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.
Clear 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. (More: 14 clever hacks for cleaning your house.)
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, plus it's better for the environment, too.
Consider your window coverings
Windows are often responsible for the majority of unwanted heat gain during summer. According to the Australian Government's YourHome website, leaky windows could be to blame for as much as 87 per cent of a home's thermal gains. To reduce your home's potential of turning into a hot box, make sure blinds are pulled down during summer and, if you have west-facing living or sleeping areas, consider installing awnings to further block the harsh afternoon sun. And, if you need help updating your window dressings, check out this handy DIY video on how to hang curtains.
Keep the bugs out
As well as being a source of energy leakage, window and door gaps are also an invitation for bugs and mosquitoes to take up residence in your home. Prevent unwanted guests by checking your windows and doors are properly sealed and, if there are any gaps or cracks, use caulk to fill them. For more information, check out this video on how to seal door gaps.
Get the pool ready
Be prepared for those first sultry days of summer by making sure your pool is ready to take a dive. This includes cleaning out your pool filter, emptying baskets, and topping it up if it's lost a few centimetres over winter. And if your water is a little cloudy or yellow, you'll also need to adjust the pool's pH. Also, remember that new pool safety laws require anyone with a private pool or spa to have registered it with their local council by 1 November.
Look after your lawns
If your lawns are looking unruly, it's time to dust off the lawnmower and give them a good haircut. Plus, check out our guide to summer lawn care and the best native grass alternatives for your backyard.
Update your bedding
As the weather heats up, it's time to strip off the flannel sheets and switch to more breezy, summer-friendly cotton or bamboo bed linen. It's also a good time to rotate your mattress or, if you're in the market for a new one, RACV members save 15 per cent off regular prices and five per cent off already reduced prices at Snooze. Plus, check out our guide to choosing bed linen.
Freshen up your paint
A lick of paint is one of the easiest ways to give your home a facelift and the arrival of warmer weather is the ideal time to get rolling. When choosing exterior colours, it's good to keep in mind that lighter hues reflect radiant energy and therefore can help to reduce the transfer of hear into your home. If you're planning a DIY painting project, check out this step-by-step guide to painting a room. Or, if you'd prefer to call in the professionals, RACV Home Trades and Services can help you find the right painter for the job.
Get your air conditioner serviced
If it's been a while since your cranked up your air conditioner, it might be a little rusty after its winter hibernation. Check if the conditioner’s filter needs to be replaced or have your central air system professionally looked at. You’ll breathe easy not having to deal with air-cooling malfunctions in the sweltering summer heat. If your cooling system isn't working because of faulty components, electrical or gas issues, or you are unable to reignite the pilot light, RACV Emergency Home Assist can have a plumber or electrician at your door usually within the hour.
Clean outdoor furniture and sweep the deck
Now that we're allowed house guests again, families across the state are getting ready to collectively fire up their barbecues. Get ready for guests by giving your outdoor dining table and chairs a wipe over, and give your patio or deck a sweep so it's free from dust and dirt. 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.
Prepare for storms
Summer is a peak period for storms so make sure your house is prepared for any downpours or wild weather. Check your roof and fix any issues, like cracked, broken or loose tiles, to prevent water damage. Remove leaves and other debris from gutters, and unblock downpipes and drains to prevent water overflowing, and make sure any trees overhanging your house or other buildings, such as a shed or carport, are cut back.
Get fire ready
If you're in an area at risk from bush or grassfire, clean up around the house to remove anything within 10 metres of the building that could ignite in a fire, including trees, shrubs, mulch and plastic bins. Also seal up any gaps, such as air-conditioning vents and pipe outlets with ember mesh screening, to help shield against ember attack in a fire. Make sure your house and contents insurance is up to date and covers you for bushfires, and take the time to write and practise a fire plan so everyone in your household knows what to do in an emergency. The CFA website has details about what to include in a fire plan.
Enquire about rooftop solar
As summer approaches, Victorians working from home will be using their air conditioners more than ever, which means they'll also be looking for ways to keep bills down. Installing solar panels could be the answer to soaring summer energy needs. Australia has the highest per-capita uptake of domestic rooftop solar in the world so, if you’ve been thinking about installing solar panels, go to RACV Solar to get a quote.