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.

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.