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Summer weatherization tips to keep things cool

As we see thermometers rise in Southern Nevada, homeowners should remind themselves of the basics to prepare for more upcoming hot weather. We all know that out here in the desert climate, air conditioning is essential; but, with rising costs of seemingly everything these days, there are other ways homeowners can keep their house cool and comfortable and make sure the AC unit isn’t working overtime. A few tips:

■ Weather stripping can make a difference. The extreme cold and heat in Las Vegas can cause doors to contract and expand as temperatures fluctuate. This can cause gaps that allow hot air to enter the house. Make sure you check, fix or add weather stripping to seal your doors and keep the hot air outside.

■ Solar screens and blackout curtains block direct sunlight. The key to keeping things nice and cool is to keep the brutal summer rays from getting inside, especially on the west or south side of your home, where the sun is most prevalent during the hottest parts of the day. You can choose to install solar screens or blackout curtains on all windows, but they’ll be most effective on the side of your home that receives the most direct sun exposure.

■ Check entrances for our furry friends and for other areas. Dog and cat lovers can see a real negative difference in their AC bill if they aren’t mindful with their pet doors. Just like the entrances we use, it’s important to make sure that your pet door seals properly. You can consider adding or replacing magnets to make sure they are fully shut when your pets aren’t going in and out. This also goes for any other gaps. You may be noticing a trend, but pretty much any place in the home that can expose the rest of the house to the outside heat should be sealed off. Areas like fireplace flues are susceptible to cool air escaping, and foam or caulking can do the trick to fill any gaps throughout the house. Additionally, checking for missing insulation in the attic and ensuring that existing insulation is installed properly also can help keep your home cool.

■ Regular AC maintenance is crucial. Our essential air-conditioning units aren’t invincible and far too many people tend to skip the crucial maintenance that is needed to ensure a well-working system. Be sure to get in touch with an AC technician at least once a year for a tuneup. They’ll be able to advise about any signs of a malfunctioning unit or any critical problems before they become worse. If your system is blowing warm air, or making strange noises, it’s best to consult with a professional, but even before any symptoms present themselves, a regularly scheduled checkup is always advised. Additionally, the peace of mind is well worth it for those who can afford it.

The unfortunate reality is, however, that too many people, especially those who are on a low or fixed income, simply can’t afford regular AC maintenance and often choose expenses like food or medicine before an expensive repair bill. Even minor repairs can cost anywhere from $100 to $300, and a full replacement can cost upward of $10,000.

Thankfully, there are resources for eligible homeowners who have an AC unit in need of repair or replacement. Rebuilding Together Southern Nevada is an organization that specializes in helping those people in need with critical home repairs when they can’t afford to do it themselves. RTSNV is responsible for conducting more than 100 AC replacements for low-income seniors, veterans and individuals with disabilities every year.

If you or someone you know may be eligible for services and is in desperate need of a critical home repair, you can get the process started by visiting the website, rtsnv.org and filling out a homeowner application.

For the rest of us, don’t sweat it! With these regular tips, you’re making a real difference in optimizing your home for maximum cooling efficiency.

Bob Cleveland is CEO of Rebuilding Together Southern Nevada, a local nonprofit that serves low-income homeowners by rehabilitating existing homes to improve their overall health and safety. With more than 1,200 community partners and volunteers, RTSNV has renovated more than 8,400 homes, impacting the lives of more than 14,000 Southern Nevadans.

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