Is summer making you sweat? It's not just the heat, it's the utility bills. You can keep your home cooler and save money, too. Here are some smart summer tips from insulation maker Owens Corning:
Program your thermostat: Automatic temperature control can save energy and money; program the thermostat once, then it does the rest. The thermostat works with the air conditioner, cuing it to adjust settings as necessary. Set the thermostat to a warmer temperature (such as 85 degrees) while you're usually not at home. Cue it to cool down to 78 degrees an hour before you expect to get home, so you'll arrive to a cool house.
Shade your windows: Sunny windows make your air conditioner work two to three times harder. Make its job easier by closing curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day. Window shades, blinds or drapes will reflect heat away from the house, making rooms automatically cooler.
Insulate: Attic insulation can keep a home cooler in summer and warmer in winter. It can save you up to $220 annually on energy bills, according to Owens Corning experts.
Weatherize: Leaks let cool air out and hot air in wasting energy and money. Weatherstripping around doors and windows will keep cool air inside during summer. Also, plug leaks and insulate around air-conditioning ducts in unconditioned spaces, such as attics, crawl spaces and garages.
Are pests bugging your garden? Be pesticide smart before you spray. Check out the advice at www.applyresponsibly. org. On that site, you'll find tips about pesticide use, storage and disposal. Tip No. 1: Always read the entire label first, then follow directions.
Watch out for stink bugs on tomatoes and squash. No spray necessary; an effective way to control them is to pick them off by hand and dispose of them.
Avoid pot "hot feet." Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat and keep roots cooler. That means less plant stress.
Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.
Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.
Mulch, mulch, mulch. As the weather continues to heat up, mulching helps conserve water while keeping your plants' roots cool and moist. When applying mulch, leave a circle around trunks or main stems to avoid crown rot.
Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladioluses and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.
If you still have room in your veggie garden, transplant seedlings for tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and squash. Look for varieties that mature in 75 days or less.
From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, squash and sunflowers.