Beat the heat with five summer-prep must-dos for your parents' home
Summer is on its way! Whether you're firing up the grill, wading in the pool or spending long nights on the porch, summer opens new opportunities for you to spend time with your parents.
It's important to remember, however, that while the season brings promises of increased sunshine and fresh air, it also means rising temperatures, insects and temperamental storms.
Before summer swoops in, use these five tips to ensure that your aging parents’ home is prepared.
1. Keep the AC unit in tip-top shape
The most important thing for older adults is staying cool during the summer heat. That means it may be time to give your parents’ air conditioner a checkup before the mercury rises.
Start by clearing any debris and dust from the vents, then replace the air filter to ensure the whole system moves smoothly. While you’re out and about with your parents, give the unit a test run to see if the house cools while you’re away. If the unit fails the test, it might be time to call in a professional to address potential issues.
If your parents are looking to reduce their energy consumption and costs, you may want to consider installing a programmable or smart thermostat to optimize use of the AC unit.
2. Change the ceiling fan direction
If you keep your house cool by using ceiling fans, be aware that they are designed to rotate differently depending on the season. In the summer, the fan should run counter-clockwise at higher speeds to keep the air cool and provide a light breeze. You can change the rotation direction by clicking the small switch near the base of the fan.
3. Check for leaks
If your parents’ home has leaks, then that perfectly cooled air you’ve just secured will work its way outside. To combat this, look for physical leaks, such as drafts in windows or doors. These can be easily sealed with caulk and weather stripping. Next, search around pipes and duct-work in the attic and basement for any gaps, filling these with expanding foam as necessary.
If you’ve never sealed a house before, Energy.gov is a government resource with plenty of tips on how best to combat leaks.
Just as you don’t want cool air getting out, you don’t want heat or storm runoff getting in. Inspect your parents’ roof for missing or broken shingles and any signs of decay, repairing as necessary. You can check for other potential leak areas by placing a running garden hose in the gutter and searching for areas where water is pooling or coming out of a place it shouldn't.
4. Bug-proof the home
From ants to flies, pests come out to play in the summertime. Now that you’ve already sealed points of entry, it’s time to prepare the outdoor perimeter, baseboards, windows, doors and sinks with pest repellents. Common household items such as cinnamon and garlic can make for easy, effective solutions to pests. Learn how to best utilize these ingredients in a repellent with recipes from SheKnows.
Since bugs can fit through many spaces, it’s also important to check window or door screens for tears. You can push broken wires back into place or even seal a hole with clear nail polish.
If your parents have a yard or garden, also check that there are no areas where water will pool and attract insects.
5. Rearrange clothing and toiletry items
The change in season means your parents need access to different items around the house. Help your parents organize their clothes so that summer clothes are at the front, and similarly arrange cabinets or utility closets so that such items as sunscreen and bug spray are within easy reach.
With a bit of proactive action, it’s easy to make sure your aging parents’ home is fully prepared by the time summer arrives, giving you more time to enjoy the season together.
Wondering if it might be time to explore senior living options? For more information about aging in place versus in a retirement community, download our free e-book, “7 Unexpected Financial Benefits of Living in a Senior Living Community,” and get in touch to learn about senior living options.