5 Tips For Decluttering Your Home This Summer
No one likes a messy home— especially when it's summer and the sizzling temperatures are making everyone just a little bit irritable! Luckily, the blistering heat is also the perfect excuse to stay indoors and do some decluttering.
From creating a detailed cleanup plan to the best way to get rid of your extra stuff, take a look at these tips that will make decluttering your home a bit more manageable:
Make a plan and stick to it. Crafting a list of all your home's problem areas and laying out a plan of attack will save you a lot of time and stress. It's also important to pace yourself and allot a realistic amount of time to actually finish the project you're working on. If your garage is filled to the brim with boxes you haven't gone through in ages, you're probably going to need more than a few hours to get through it. This will help you stick to your plan, even when life and distractions get in the way.
Organize and clean room-by-room. Once you start a project, finish it! It can get very hectic (and messy) if you have multiple projects going on at once— not to mention it gets super difficult to prioritize your clean ups when there are multiple spaces that need attention. Pick one room at a time, and then only move onto the next room after everything is tidy.
Start small. Decluttering your home doesn't happen instantly. It can be overwhelming to think about the entire house as one big project. Once you choose a room, you can choose a specific area of the room to focus on at one time, like a bookshelf or a cabinet. Find a small project and then build on from there.
Keep, toss or give away? Purchase bins and boxes so you can more easily organize your keep, toss and giveaway piles. Look through your things and decide which items you can't live without. For everything leftover, decide whether you want to donate it or throw it out. If you think someone else might benefit from the item, add it to the giveaway box. If not, toss it!
5 Common AC Mistakes You're Probably Making
1. You're Neglecting the Air Filter
Air conditioners work by sucking in air and passing it over a continuous liquid-to-gas-to-liquid chemical reaction. That reaction forces the air around it to absorb its heat, thus lowering its temperature. With all that movement, it's inevitable that dust, dander, and allergens get stirred up. The filter is designed to catch any nasty stuff accumulated in the air.
However, as it grabs more and more particles, the filter can become clogged. That means the air conditioner has to work much harder to cool a room. It can also force dust into the room, which you definitely don’t want. “Clogged air filters can damage your air conditioner system’s parts and result in costly repairs,” says Lenny Cipolla, an owner of Florida-based HVAC service and repair company Southern Coast Services.
You should clean the filter on a central air conditioning unit about once a month. The filter location will vary based on your model, but be sure to turn off the power before you do so. A window unit likely has a warning light indicating when it’s time to clean the filter. And cleaning an air conditioner filter is pretty easy. Simply suck up any loose debris up with a vacuum, then soak the filter in a mixture of equal parts hot water and white vinegar. Give it a rinse, let it dry, and you should be good to go!
2. You Installed It in a Sunny Spot
For window units, location is everything. If your air conditioner is located in an especially sunny place, the unit will have to work much harder to cool the air, which could cost you money over time. If possible, install it in a shady spot.
Another common installation problem is not sealing the window properly. If there’s space around the air conditioner, you'll let in hot air. Make sure that the fold-out shield on a window unit blocks as much air as possible. Then you can look into weatherstripping to seal up any gaps.
For outdoor units, make sure the space around it is clear: no trees, shrubs, flowers, or structures should block their flow.
3. It's Surrounded with Appliances
Most air conditioners have sensors that let you pick a temperature and prompt the unit to cycle on and off to maintain that temperature. But these can be unintentionally tricked.
Make sure there are no appliances that give off heat near your air conditioner. This includes lamps, kitchen appliances like refrigerators, and home electronics like televisions. Those items will raise the temperature in their immediate area and fool the air conditioner into working harder—and thus less efficiently. Consider using blackout curtains in the room with your AC unit.
“Close the blinds or drapes on the sunny side of your home during the hottest part of the day to naturally lower the inside temperature,” says Ted Noonan, owner of Noonan Energy in Massachusetts. “Avoid cooking meals that involve the oven, which can increase the temperature in your home and force your unit to work harder.”
4. You Use It On Mild Days
Frankly, we all probably use our air conditioners more than necessary. These units use a lot of energy, making them expensive to run; it could cost you as much as $25 per month per unit to run half of each day.
If it’s only mildly hot outside, or if you’re not in the same room as the air conditioner, turn it off. Fans, especially ceiling fans, are a good option, too as they do a great job of circulating air. Plus, a ceiling fan costs only $1.50 per month for the same usage. And the less you use it, the longer your air conditioner will last.
5. You Ignore Preventive Maintenance
For smaller window AC units, proper location and air filter cleaning will take you through the life of the system. But for large HVAC units, more maintenance might be needed. “At a minimum, air conditioning condenser coils should be cleaned at least twice a year,” says Richard Ciresi, owner of an Aire Serv heating and cooling franchise. “It is best to clean the condenser coils before starting the system for the season and again when the weather starts to get hot for prolonged periods of time.” The condenser coils are located on the exterior box of your HVAC system. To clean them, first turn off the power at the outdoor shutoff, then use a coil brush or vacuum to remove debris. Spray with a hose or wash with coil cleaner as needed.
There are few feelings of relief so perfect as coming in from a hot, humid summer’s day to a crisp, air-conditioned house. But it’s important to remember that these appliances won’t simply take care of themselves. Take care of them with our expert tips, and they’ll keep your family cool all season long.
Spring Cleaning Outside
SPRING CLEANING OUTSIDE
When making your spring cleaning list, remember your home's exterior. A few hours of attention could save you a bundle in unexpected repairs.
Roof & Chimney
Examine your roof for cracked or missing shingles and damaged flashing around vents and chimneys. Check chimney caps and roof vents for bird nests and debris.
Gutters & Downspouts
Clogged gutters lead to rainwater back up and rot under shingles, waterfalls that cause window leaks and pools that drain into your crawl or basement and soften soil around tree roots causing them to fall. Consider installing gutter screening and downspout extensions.
Foundation Vents & Drains
Look for missing or damaged screens, debris, signs of insect or rodent infestation, or other issues. Unclog drainage systems designed to channel water away from the foundation, including city sewer drains.