The birds are chirping, the days are getting longer and the chill of winter is fading, which means that preparing your home for summer should be a priority. As warm weather approaches, set aside a weekend to get your home ready for summer.
You won't need those flannel sheets and heavy comforters anymore. Wash your winter bedding and put it away. You can also wash and store winter coats and shoes, as well as scarves, gloves, hats and other cold-weather accessories. Switch out the sweaters and wool clothing in your closet to lighter summer clothes, and put your winter clothing in storage. This is also a good time to donate or throw away any clothes you don't need; if you haven't worn a garment all winter, for example, consider getting rid of it.
Remove storm windows, if you have them. Wash them and put them in storage. If you use outdoor furniture during the summer, haul it out from the basement or garage to the porch or patio (it's best to wait until pollen season passes).
If you plan to take a summer vacation, make sure your home will be safely secured while you're gone. Make sure you have working locks on your doors and windows. Use timers to turn on lamps and the radio in the evening, and remember to stop the mail, the newspaper and other deliveries. Don't store your key outside your home. Save energy by turning up your thermostat before you leave.
If you live in an area that is susceptible to wildfires, remove accumulations of leaves and needles from your gutters and around your home. Keep firewood at least 30 feet from your home, and make sure your family has an evacuation plan.
Make your summer more comfortable by eliminating standing water around your home, which reduces the mosquito population. Clean leaves out of your gutters, store canoes and boats upside-down, clean the water in bird-baths and store old tires in places they won't collect rain. You can also add larvacides to standing water, such as puddles and ditches.
Save energy this summer by switching to compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs. CFL bulbs use much less energy and produce less heat than incandescent bulbs, reducing your electric and air-conditioning bills. In addition, consider composting your food waste. You'll end up with a free organic fertilizer that's perfect for your garden or lawn, and your garbage will stink less.
Adjust your thermostat to 78 degrees while you are in the house and 85 degrees while you are out of the house. If you don't have a programmable thermostat, consider investing in one. Programmable thermostats automatically adjust the temperature in your home, so you can save energy all day and still come home to a cool house. A programmable thermostat could help you save 10 percent on your heating and cooling bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Getting in the habit of using ceiling fans could also low your bills; ceiling fans use much less energy than air conditioners. Finally, make sure you close your blinds or curtains during the day; this keeps excess heat out of your home.