July ushers in the start of summer, which translates into outdoor living, grilling and staying cool. But this month, like any other, there are things you can do to improve your summer living; things that will bring you more opportunity for leisure-time pursuits, while still keeping your home and garden in peak condition.
Here are my five top "must-dos" for the month of July:
1. Cool down - naturally
Installing a ceiling fan is a fantastic way to cut energy costs all year round. It helps circulate cool air in the warm summer months but can also help push down heated air in the winter, allowing you to dial down the thermostat and save money. It's also the perfect weekend project for a homeowner, since you can accomplish the task in a few hours and enjoy the investment immediately. Some things to consider:
- When choosing a fan, note the size of your room. The blades need to be at least 18-24 inches from all walls, a minimum of 7 feet from the floor, and 10 inches from the ceiling. Choose a 36-inch fan if your room is less than 12 feet square; 42-inch if the room is between 144 inches and 256 inches square; and 52-inch if the room is more than 15 x 15 feet square.
- Choose a ceiling box approved for fans. Boxes for overhead lights are not strong enough to support the weight. Choose a metal box that can support the weight. If you have access from the attic above, you can install the box to additional framing between joists. If not, grab a brace bar at the hardware store. This will screw into the joists, and the ceiling box and fan will hang from the newly added support.
- Turn off the electricity at the breaker box. Putting the wall switch in the "off" position won't cut it. To be safe, you'll want to turn off the electricity at the breaker box. Then carefully remove the old light fixture and its ceiling box with a screwdriver. Make sure the wiring is in good condition, and consult an electrician to replace if necessary. Making sure the hole is between two ceiling joists, trace the outline of the ceiling box onto the ceiling and cut out the shape with a keyhole saw. It should be about 5 inches diameter.