Prepare your home for summer guide

Cool down indoors

Direct sun beaming through windows can feel like you have a heater on. Close all the windows and shut any blinds and curtains during the hottest part of the day. When the temperature starts to drop open up the house again so it can cool down for the evening. Turn on ceiling and pedestal fans to get the air moving and pushing the warm air out.

Prepare for storms

Now is the time of year when thunderstorms strike. Get your home ready by checking for cracks, leaks, or deterioration in any caulking around windows and doors. Replace any worn caulk using an appropriate sealant with a caulk gun, available from hardware stores. Any small leaks in the roof can become big leaks when there is lots of water coming down. Fix any problems before they become unmanageable.

Banish bugs

Pests can ruin a relaxing afternoon and as the weather warms up the bugs get busier and don’t mind wandering inside. Spray around windows, doors and the house foundations with a barrier insecticide and this should hopefully create a no go zone for bugs. Inside the house spray around doors, kitchen kickboards, under sinks and around windows. Fly screens on windows and doors let the breeze in and keep the pests out.

Rejuvenate windows

Plenty of time is spent looking in and out of windows when the weather is warm. If your trims are looking a little tired it might be worth sprucing them up, it’s amazing the difference this small task can make. Sand back the old paint and wipe down. Use painter’s tape to avoid getting paint on the windowpanes then brush on a couple of coats for a fresh new look.

Cull the frozen goods

If your fridge and freezer are groaning with Tupperware, now is the time to start using up all the bits and pieces to make space for holiday entertaining. Don’t take chances with food that is past its best. When in doubt, throw it out! A rough guide to how long you can store food is, fresh meat 1-2 days in the fridge and 3-4 months in the freezer, fresh fish 1-2 days in the fridge and 2-3 months in the freezer and cooked leftovers 3-4 days in the fridge and 2-3 months in the freezer.

BBQ preparation

Once a year you should to do a thorough clean on your bbq to keep it in top condition. Disconnect the gas then lift everything out and clean the parts in warm soapy water. Replace ceramic briquettes as old ones can have a build up of fat and food that can make cooking taste bad. Replace everything and make sure it is connected properly. Let the bbq heat for a while so it burns any soap residue off then you’re ready to get grilling.

Mulch garden beds

Keep moisture in the soil and weeds out by covering garden beds with a 70-100mm layer of mulch. Choose mulch that breaks down to add organic matter to the soil such as sugar cane, pine bark or lucerne. Water in deeply so rain penetrates the mulch layer and gets into the soil. Another advantage of mulch is it keeps the soil a fairly even temperature so plant roots don’t get frozen or fried.

Clean out gutters

A tedious but necessary job to do before summer sets in is to clear gutters of leaf litter. You can save your house from ember attacks during bushfires. Get a sturdy ladder, bucket, work gloves and some rags to remove dirt build up in the bottom of gutters. Work your way around the house removing any leaves or debris and fixing any holes or damage as you go.

Grow a green lawn

Watering turf during times of limited rainfall and regular mowing helps keep your lawn growing strongly. The best time to irrigate is in the morning or late afternoon, this gives the grass time to soak up the moisture before it gets too hot. Feed by sprinkling lawn food on a damp grass and water in well. Turf roots can burn on a hot day if fertiliser is not watered in thoroughly.

Plant for flavor and color

Plant all the herbs you’ll need for your Christmas feast now. Parsley, chives, basil and mint are all essential and by growing your own you can just pick what you need and waste none. Add some Christmas colour with bright dahlias, gerberas and zinnias and plant gardenias, star jasmine and roses to fill the warm evening air with their floral perfume. Sell your home in Clearwater Fl

Benefits of passive building design

Orientation

Orientation is of greatest importance in heating climate zones – that is, in the more southerly (temperate and cool) parts of Australia.

Orientation in its simplest form means locating living areas like the lounge room on the north side of the house, with windows having clear access to sunlight especially in mid-winter.

Effective orientation provides a minimum of about five hours of useful solar heating a day. Even with this, the glass will still be exposed to about 19 hours of varying degrees of heat loss. So it’s important that other elements of passive design support the orientation, or the effect will be lost.

Ventilation

Ventilation can improve comfort levels and the air quality in your home. Most Australian homes rely on a combination of exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms and windows and doors (and in older homes fixed wall vents) that open to provide ventilation.

Zoning

Passive solar design uses zoning to help regulate temperature in a home. Doors close off rooms and spaces and stop warm air escaping from living areas into empty corridors. Zoning also keeps cool air in during summer so if you use the air conditioner you only cool the room you need and not the entire home.

Insulation

Insulation is like a barrier, helping to regulate heat flow into and out of your home. By reducing heat flow you can maintain a comfortable temperature inside, regardless of the temperature outside. The type and level of insulation needed varies depending on where you live and the building materials used for the house. If you live in a naturally ventilated home in the tropics, the aim of insulation is to reduce the amount of heat getting in without restricting the hot air escaping. Reflective insulation under the roof and in walls that are not permanently shaded would work well.

Thermal Mass

Thermal mass is a measure of a material’s ability to absorb and release heat. Good passive design uses thermal mass to absorb excess heat from within a house during summer days and dump it to cool night skies. In winter, solar radiation warms the mass during the day, re-radiating it to the occupants at night. It is critical that thermal mass is well insulated from external temperatures and that it is exposed to winter sun in cooler climate zones.

Windows and Glazing

The size of the window has a large influence on comfort, as it is both the biggest source of heat loss and heat gain. Ideally, in most climates of Australia except the Top End region, the top of the window should be lower than the eaves by 30% of the height from window sill to underside of eaves.

Shading

External shading devices can block up to 90% of the unwanted direct sunlight hitting your windows during summer. There are two main types of external shading to choose from: fixed shading devices and ones that can adapt to seasonal changes. Fixed devices such as eaves and pergolas have been the traditional mainstay for shading. These can be designed (particularly on the northern side of a house) to allow the winter sun to enter but exclude the hot summer sun.

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