Surviving a warm weather blackout

Surviving a warm weather blackoutMost power outages will be over almost as soon as they begin, but some can last much longer — up to days or even weeks. Fortunately, you can lessen the impact of a power outage by taking the time to prepare in advance.

Power outages are often caused by storms and/or high winds that damage power lines and equipment. You may be left without air conditioning, lighting, hot water or even running water. If you only have a cordless phone, you will also be left without phone service.

Here’s what to do during a blackout to protect you and your family.

  1. First, check whether the power outage is limited to your home. If your neighbours’ power is still on, check your own circuit breaker panel or fuse box. If the problem is not a breaker or a fuse, check the service wires leading to the house. If they are obviously damaged or on the ground, stay at least 10 metres back and notify your electric supply authority. Keep the number along with other emergency numbers near your telephone.
  2. If your neighbours’ power is also out, notify your electric supply authority.
  3. Turn off all tools, appliances and electronic equipment to prevent damage from a power surge when power is restored. Note that power can be restored more easily when there is not a heavy load on the electrical system.
  4. Turn off all lights, except one inside and one outside, so that both you and hydro crews outside know when power has been restored.
  5. Never use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment or home generators indoors or in garages because they give off carbon monoxide. Since you can’t smell or see it, carbon monoxide can cause health problems and is life-threatening.
  6. Use proper candle holders. Never leave lit candles unattended and keep them out of the reach of children. Always extinguish candles before going to bed.
  7. Listen to your battery-powered or wind-up radio for information on the outage and advice from authorities. Did you know that the Alert Ready system is designed to deliver critical and potentially life-saving alerts to Canadians through television, radio and now mobile. The addition of wireless emergency alerts can help ensure you get the critical information you need, even during an extended a black out. Visit alertready.ca for more information and to find out if your phone is compatible.

Find more information at www.getprepared.ca.

3 tips to consider before your backyard renovation

3 tips to consider before your backyard renovationIf you’re thinking about transforming your outdoor space with a new deck or garden, here are a few things to keep in mind before you get started:

Think about appliances and equipment early. Give some thought to the types of appliances or equipment you may want installed based on what’s most important to you. Is it comfort, energy efficiency or aesthetics? Plan based on what you’d like now and potentially in the future to identify what you’ll need, such as support beams, electrical wires and natural gas lines. When choosing the appliances, don’t forget to factor in the fuel source. There are several natural gas appliances available, like fireplaces, pool heaters and outdoor lighting.

Barbecue like a chef. If you’re designing your backyard with entertaining in mind, opt for a natural gas barbecue. Since they’re hooked up to your home’s natural gas line, you won’t run out of fuel or have to wait for charcoal to heat up. That means more time to spend with your guests.

Chefs also chefs prefer cooking with natural gas because the direct and consistent heat allows for more precise temperature control and even cooking.

Call or click before you dig. When you’re ready to start your backyard project, but before you do any digging, contact Ontario One Call to see what’s underground. Damage to a natural gas line can result in a gas leak, fire or explosion, and can even cut off utility service to an entire neighbourhood. A natural gas connection should also only be installed by a licensed HVAC contractor. Find more information at www.on1call.com or by calling 1-800-400-2255.

5 ways to stay cool while saving energy this summer

5 ways to stay cool while saving energy this summerTemperatures are rising, and many of us are reaching for the thermostats to stay cool. But there are also energy-efficient ways that will help you stay comfortable while controlling your costs. Check out these tips from Hydro One:

  1. Open the windows on breezy days. Ventilation is the least costly and most energy-efficient way to cool your home. Open a few windows to create cross ventilation and let a refreshing breeze come through.
  2. Put food on the grill. Using large appliances like your oven when cooking can add a lot of indoor heat. Cook outdoors on the barbecue instead.
  3. Draw your curtains. Keeping blinds and curtains closed during the day blocks out sunlight and will help keep the cool air inside.
  4. Take care of your thermostat. Keep your thermostat out of direct sunlight. Set it to 25°C when you are at home and raise it to 28°C when you leave the house for optimal energy efficiency.
  5. Invest in a ceiling fan. Having a ceiling fan will allow you to raise your thermostat settings and save energy without affecting your comfort. Set the fan to spin counter-clockwise to create a downward cooling breeze instead of running the air conditioning.

Find more tips at www.hydroone.com/coolingguide.

Summer home maintenance tips

Summer home maintenance tipsNow that you’ve pulled out your lawn furniture, uncovered the barbecue and put on your flip flops, you’re eager to enjoy some fun in the sun. But if you’ve recently moved into a new home, don’t forget it still needs love and attention beyond just cutting the lawn once in a while.

Even with today’s energy-efficient, high-tech homes, seasonal maintenance is important because it helps protect your new home warranty. By failing to regularly maintain your home, you risk causing damage that may not be covered by your warranty.

When you’re planning your summer fun list, make sure you find some time for this home maintenance checklist:

June:

  • Inspect air conditioning
  • Check roof
  • Check sheds and garages
  • Check sealing around windows and doors
  • Check septic system and clean if necessary
  • Fertilize lawn
  • Check water heater
  • Check and reset ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI)
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

July:

  • Air out damp basements on a dry, sunny day
  • Clean air conditioner
  • Check exhaust fans
  • Check water heater for leaks
  • Check and reset GFCIs
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

August:

  • Clean air conditioner filter
  • Air out damp basements on dry, sunny days
  • Inspect driveways and walks
  • Inspect doors and locks
  • Check and reset GFCIs
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

Find more seasonal maintenance tips online at tarion.com.

Tips for a great yard

Tips for a great yardWarm summer days mean more time spent tending to our lawns and gardens. Here are some tips to help make your yard one of the best on the block:

Mow high. Keeping the blade raised for a 2.5 to 3-inch cut is best because it helps a strong root system develop and discourages weed growth.

Don’t water too often. By watering deeply and infrequently, you can encourage deep root growth. If you water in the morning, you’ll lose less moisture to evaporation.

Keep an eye open for pests. A small number of weeds or bugs is nothing to worry about, and if you catch a problem before it gets out of hand you will have an easier time dealing with it. If your problem reaches a point where you need to use a pesticide, just follow the label. The products in Canadian stores are approved by Health Canada before they are made available to consumers.

A healthy yard is not only a beautiful way to add value to your property, it’s also a good way to enhance the environment by filtering rainwater, attracting birds and good insects and absorbing pollution. Regular maintenance and keeping a watchful eye out for potential problems are two simple ways you can make the most of your personal outdoor oasis while contributing to a beautiful, vibrant urban environment.

Dos and don’ts for maintenance and energy conservation at the cottage

Dos and don'ts for maintenance and energy conservation at the cottageWarmer weather has teased us out of hibernation and has us planning for a fun-filled summer. As a cottager, you’ve likely marked your calendar with the day you’ll be opening up your summer escape.

Here are some dos and don’ts from Hydro One that will ensure your next few months are stress-free when it comes to electrical maintenance:

  • Do download the free mobile outage app so you can easily be informed about power outages in your area. You can also register to receive proactive free personalized text or email alerts about outages as well.
  • Do a circle check and inspect the power line feeding your cottage. Watch out for any tree branches that are growing close to the line, as they could potentially cause a power outage.
  • Do perform basic maintenance checks regularly. Hydro One will disconnect the power supply to your property once a year at no charge so that any maintenance along or near your power lines can be performed safely.
  • Do check your electricity meter for damage before entering your cottage. Report any damage observed to your local electricity service provider.
  • Don’t energize all your branch circuits at once. Ensure that they are in the off position before turning on the power. You can then open the main switch and energize individual circuits one at a time. Make sure you also fill your water tank before switching on the power to avoid damaging your water heater.
  • Don’t make any repairs without contacting a licensed electrical contractor. You are required by law to do so and they have the expertise, equipment and training to do the job safely. The Electrical Safety Authority has a contractor locator that you can use to find a contractor working in your area.

Purchasing a new air-conditioner? Here’s what you need to know

Purchasing a new air conditioner? Here's what you need to knowHot temperatures have us relying on air conditioning to keep us cool. And since we spend most of our energy dollars controlling our home’s temperature, if your unit is more than 10 years old, it may be time for an upgrade.

Use these tips from Hydro One to help you purchase an efficient model:

  1. 1. Look for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) labels on air conditioners. Official Canadian EnerGuide labels display the model type and SEER, which measures how efficiently the system runs over the entire cooling season. The higher the rating, the more efficient the system. Use this rating while you shop to compare the energy efficiency of different models.
  2. 2. Consider investing in an air-source heat pump. It’ll serve you all year round, as it provides energy-efficient home heating and cooling. In the summer months, heat pumps cool your home efficiently by removing warm air and transferring it outside. They also act as a dehumidifier, removing moisture from the air indoors.
  3. 3. Once you’ve purchased your new unit, make sure it is tuned up once a year. Proper maintenance can reduce your cooling costs by up to 10 percent and increase the lifespan of your system.

Quick guide to a great summer garden

Quick guide to a great summer gardenAs we prepare for cookouts, barbecues and relaxing outdoors, it’s time to get your gardens in shape. Feeling a little rusty? Here are some tips to make your backyard stand out.

Make a plan: It’s important to take into consideration the location you’ll be planting in and what you’ll be growing, as space and sunlight affect how your garden will thrive.

Have some fun with it: The possibilities for pollinator-friendly flowers and plants are endless: lanced-leaved coreopsis, New England asters, dense blazing stars and so many more. A wide variety of wildflowers in your garden provides a wide selection of nutritious nectar and pollen sources for honey bees and other pollinators.

More honey bees, please: Summertime is an important season for honey bees. Populations in Canada are now at an all-time high, but they need to spend the warm months finding nutritious food to help sustain their hives through winter. Keeping your garden abundant with blooming flowers means the honey bees and other pollinators will have food all summer long.

Get the right stuff: Picking the appropriate pollinator-friendly flowers and plants for your garden can be tough. Bees Matter can help. Get free seeds for a pollinator-friendly garden at www.beesmatter.ca.

Spring cleaning tips for a healthier home

Spring cleaning tips for a healthier homeWith the warmer weather upon us, spring cleaning may be on your mind. And if you have asthma, it’s a good idea to focus some of your cleaning efforts on the air you breathe inside your home.

Indoor air is an important health concern, as most Canadians spend up to 90 per cent of their time indoors. Poor indoor air quality can play a significant role in triggering certain conditions, like asthma. Here are tips on reducing some of the more common indoor triggers:

Dust and dust mites:

  • Remove or reduce dust-collecting items such as carpeting, drapes, stuffed toys and old pillows.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water.
  • Encase pillows and mattresses in covers that are dust mite-proof.
  • Keep humidity level below 50 per cent.
  • Vacuum regularly using a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or central vacuum.

Mould:

  • If the humidity level is greater than 50 per cent, use a dehumidifier.
  • Limit the number of plants in your home.
  • Fix leaks and moisture problems as quickly as possible.
  • Remove clutter and allow air to flow throughout your home, especially in the basement.
  • For small amounts of mould, use warm soapy water to clean it up. For larger amounts, hire mould abatement experts.
  • Check that your eavestroughs and drain spouts are clear of any buildup.
  • Make sure the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation so that rainwater drains away — water should flow easily away from the house.
  • Throw away musty items.

Cleaning products:

  • Many household cleaning products contain chemicals that irritate the lungs, so buy air-friendly versions or make your own.
  • When using cleaning products, air out the home by opening windows and using vent fans.

Cigarette smoke:

  • * Do not allow smoking in your home or car at any time.
  • * If you smoke, take it outside every time; when you’re ready to quit, you can seek help from the Lung Association

Find more information online at lungontario.ca.

Energy saving tips for your spring cleaning list

Energy saving tips for your spring cleaning listSpring is in the air, which means it’s time to start decluttering and organizing. While the main purpose of spring cleaning is to clean your space, it can also include taking on tasks that will make your home more energy efficient.

Here are some tips from Hydro One on how to save energy and make spring cleaning a breeze.

Book a spring tune-up for your air conditioner. Annual servicing can reduce your cooling costs by up to 10 percent and extend the life of your system.

Commit to being clutter free. Keep weeds and debris away from your outdoor condenser unit to allow the air to circulate freely. Prune foliage to be at least 24 centimeters away from the condenser.

Change or clean filters. Clogged filters restrict airflow and make your system work overtime, making it less efficient. Spring is a great transitional season for you to check both your furnace and air conditioning filters to ensure they are clean and working properly.

Install a programmable thermostat. If properly set, it can reduce cooling costs. Set your central air conditioner for 25°C when you are at home and 28°C when you are away. Or turn it off to save more energy.

Schedule your washing loads. Run your dishwasher, washer and dryer early in the morning, in the evening or on weekends when electricity rates are lowest.

Find more tips at www.hydroone.com/saveenergy.