Summer is coming – the temperature climbs from 80 to 90, humidity comes and goes with the afternoon thunderstorms, dust devils kick up the desert sand blowing down the sidewalks, and mosquitoes drone in the background. In some states (I’m looking at you, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, and New Mexico!), summer is almost as harsh as winter – for the people, the land, and the places we call home.
Cool It Off
In a lot of locations around the country, air conditioning is a luxury but not a necessity. How do you stay cool when the temperatures are tipping towards 100 and your home doesn’t have central air?
A friend told me about her brother, in a tiny NYC apartment, who freezes water in a Tupperware, then blows a small fan over it into the room. Ceiling fans and rotating fans are more and more affordable at your local home improvement store. In-room air conditioning units are reasonably priced, a bit noisy and cumbersome, but boy! do they work. (I cool my bedroom with one – I installed it myself and am so grateful for a chilly cave to sleep in.)
Evaporative coolers, or swamp coolers like we call them here in Utah, are efficient, affordable ways to cool off a portion of your home. And a lot of stores offer free or steeply discounted installation if you buy through them.
Another way to beat the heat is blinds, shutters, and shades. I know, I know. The modern trend right now is no window treatments at all, and I love it! But when the sun is beating through in the mid-afternoon, it’d be nice to dim the lights and turn down the heat. If you can afford blinds or shutters, do it – they reduce heat gain in a room by about 45%!
If a permanent solution is a little too pricey right now, I’ve got an insider tip: go to the blinds aisle in your local home improvement store and find the paper shades. These nifty little solutions cost about $12, are cut-to-size so they fit any window and are self-install. I have one in my kitchen window, and it’s made all the difference about midday. (Note the rotating fan, too!)
Check It Off
The Southwest and Southeast are prone to high winds in the summers. In the Southwest, that takes the form of a monsoon, or seasonal wind shift, that brings dust storms, heat lightning, downbursts of wind, and the occasional heavy rain storm. In the Southeast, high wind comes most often in the form of a tornado or gustnado or drenching thunderstorm.
Pay attention to weather reports, and be alert for winds higher than 20 mph. Make a mental checklist of garden equipment, patio furniture, outdoor fixtures, and planters that could get knocked over or blown away in high winds. Be prepared to move quickly to secure loose property if you hear a high wind warning.
Doors that open out are stronger than doors that open in, and a sturdy deadbolt and bulkier hinges will reinforce a door to keep it from being blown open.
Check with your insurance agent to ensure you’re covered for hail damage to any vehicles, your house roof, and windows.
Have your tall trees pruned regularly to remove dead or heavy branches that could cause damage if they fell.
Seal It Up
Take the time, after the first storm or two, to walk your property, inside and outside of the house. Note any areas where water is pooling or has come in under doors. Note any leaks or mold in attics, crawl spaces, and storage rooms. Pay close attention to water drainage paths from gutters and downspouts, and clean the gutters thoroughly.
By catching water damage early, you can prevent foundational damage such as cracking, sinking, shifting, rotting, or decay. You can prevent mold in dark, damp spaces that could pose a health threat to you and your family further down the road. And you can guarantee that in the middle of a torrential summer downpour, your home will be dry and secure.