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Tips for Preparing Your Home and Car for Hot Summer Weather

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Don’t lose your cool when the temperature rises this summer. Take steps now to help ensure your home is properly insulated and your car runs smoothly against summer’s sweltering temperatures.

1. Spring clean your home’s air conditioning system. Get your air conditioner ready for the summer season with a good cleaning. Outside, clear leaves and debris away from the condensing unit and clean off accumulated dirt. Inside, replace disposable filters and wash or vacuum cleanable filters. Be sure to shut off power to your unit before cleaning it.

2. Upgrade your A/C system. Shopping for a new A/C unit? Look for one with the blue Energy Star label; these units have a higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio and use 8 percent less energy than conventional new models. If you do decide to upgrade your air conditioner, you may also need a new blower motor, the part of the HVAC system that blows cool air through the ducts. Finally, in order for your new A/C unit to operate at maximum efficiency, you may need to replace the heating system, too. This is recommended if your furnace is over 15 years old. While investing in a new system may be painful on the bank account now, you may reap the financial rewards with lowering heating and cooling bill for years to come, in addition to boosting your home's value when you're ready to sell.

3. Program your thermostat. Don’t waste money cooling your home in the heat of the day if you’re not even home. If you don’t already have one installed, upgrade to a programmable thermostat to manage indoor temperature. Set it to a higher temperature when you’re at work and program it for a lower temperature before you return home.

4. Weather seal your doors. Over time, weather sealing can compress, rip, bend and just plain wear out, creating a gap for cool air to leak out and warm air to rush in. Just how important is it to seal these holes? Leaving even a tiny 1/8-inch gap around an entryway door is the equivalent of drilling a 5 ½-inch-diameter hole through an outside wall, reports This Old House. Attaching new weather stripping is an easy weekend DIY project and complete weather seal systems are typically available at your local hardware store. Opt for silicon weather stripping that will remain tight even as your door swells and shrinks with the change of seasons.

5. Don’t overlook the attic. A well-insulated attic does more than just prevent heat loss in the winter; proper insulation also helps to stabilize your home’s indoor temperatures and keep your cooling bill under control. Insulation levels are rated by “R-Value”, which measures the insulation’s ability to resist heat flow. Check your insulation levels: if it doesn’t cover the joists or is not evenly distributed, it’s time to add more. While you’re up there, check your attic ventilation. A well-vented attic will move the super-heated summer air out of the attic, protecting roof shingles from moisture accumulation, reports Energy Star.

6. Schedule a car A/C inspection. Are you cool as a cucumber in your car, or are you halfway through your evening commute before you finally stop sweating? An A/C performance check will identify potential problems and keep your system operating smoothly all summer long. While some systems may go their entire lives without need a recharge, if your car is running low on Freon, that’s typically a sign it needs maintenance. Oil or Freon leaks, noise, or erratic operation are additional signs your car's compressor may need to be replaced. Bring your car in for a checkup in the spring to avoid being stranded without A/C.

7. Take your car in for routine maintenance. When the snow finally melts and the weather warms up, everyone gets back on the road. Before you take that long awaited road trip, schedule your car for routine maintenance. Make sure to get your oil changed, have the air pressure in your tires checked and rotated, and have your breaks looked at. If you had winter tires installed on your car, it’s time to have them changed out as the temperature starts to warm up.

Making sure everything is running smoothly after the snow has cleared allows you to kick off the warmer weather without worry!

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