Even though the North Texas heat can reduce one's ability to easily work outside, depending on your property, there are still many home renovations that can still be done. In fact, the majority of interior renovations can be done almost or just as easily, and completing interior work during the hottest months will set you up for taking better advantage of the friendlier weather when it arrives. What’s more, contractors and home maintenance professionals are generally available year-round, making it easier to hire them when needed. With our handy brainstorming guide below, you'll be sure to have an easier time getting a head start on home upgrades.
Preventative plant care
The next time you get a window of opportunity, fertilizing your trees and shrubs will greatly help them withstand the elements. Thinking even further ahead, gardens benefit immensely from native plants, because they put vital nutrients back into the soil and ensure a healthy soil microbiome. Ask your local garden center or agricultural school which native plants you can use in combination with the types of plants you grew last year.
It's easy to put off yard work, but if you plan ahead, you'll notice a major difference in the health of your yard.
North Texas has a humid subtropical climate with extremely hot summers. What better time to improve your indoor lighting? Except for particularly involved lighting installations, you can change some lighting fixtures yourself (so long as you are certain about which circuits each fuse in your fuse box corresponds to). Opt for brighter fixtures and choose full-spectrum bulbs for a natural effect that will give your brain a boost whenever you’re inside.
You can even skip the fixtures and simply replace the bulbs. Full-spectrum lighting goes a long way to boosting moods, and some therapists even instruct their clients to buy natural lighting devices — you might as well go all the way, and simply install more natural lighting throughout the entire home.
Along the same lines, repainting the interior walls with a more cheerful color can put an early spring in your step. Especially if you live in an arid region, you might start craving a splash of blue color, or at least a fresh, bright coat of white paint. When you’re ready to paint, make sure you choose a day when you can open the windows at least part of the time, in order to release paint fumes. Try to paint during a relatively dry patch of weather so each layer dries faster.
Improve air conditioning and ventilation
The concept of ventilation describes the exchange of indoor and outdoor air. You want some ventilation so that moisture and pollutants channel outside. But too much inflow of humid air can cause problems, too, such as making your home less energy-efficient.
First, sealing crack around openings. You don’t want your air conditioning unit to work overtime in compensation for loose airflow. Often, a strip of foam insulation along the inside of the door frame is all that's needed, and it can take literally just several minutes. Other solutions are almost as easy, such as applying caulk or waterproof sealant around window frames, vents, and other openings to the outdoors.
Regarding air conditioning, you usually can feel if there’s a problem: your home cools slowly or not at all. Before calling in a professional, you can perform a spot-check on your air conditioning unit.
Walk outside and examine your air conditioning units. If the air coming out the top is hot, that means your unit is running well. Cold air means there’s a problem.
Examine the insulation on your metal piping. Insulation should feel cold, not warm. Damaged insulation can cause temperature variations.
Inside, check your home’s air vents. When your system is on cool, each vent should exude air.
Whether you plan to keep your home or list it on the market, remember that cool air and comfortable living is a major priority for virtually every buyer.
Replace or install insulation
Though this is generally a bigger project, insulating your house can help reduce energy bills. The downside is that you'll probably need to make more trips in and out of the house (not to mention the dump) as you remove old material and bring new material indoors. However, if you watch your local weather reports closely and time it right, this shouldn't be too much of an issue.
Many Texas houses have little or no insulation. According to one estimation, 66% of the homes in Texas were built before the state adopted requirements for insulation in its International Residence Code in 2001. To make matters worse, homes that aren’t insulated will leak heated or (more commonly) air-conditioned air. Be sure to consult with your local real estate agent on your local insulation requirements and return on investment for such an upgrade.
Upgrade your thermostat
For a fraction of a single month's utility bill, a new programmable thermostat can save you heating costs nearly indefinitely. Simply installing it, though, is only half the battle; the other half is properly using it. Consider time spent learning how to master its use time well spent. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, achieving savings of around 10% on annual heating costs can be achieved by lowering your thermostat by about 7°—10° (F) for eight hours a day.
Consider opening unused rooms in the house to better insulate your home so the felt effects of raising the thermostat are minimal. Also, pay attention to your sleeping habits and whether they’re affected by temperature. The human body has even been shown to sleep more soundly with a slight drop in the room's temperature. If you’re listing your home, it’s best to demonstrate the quality of your thermostat to prospective buyers.
Replace hardware, faucets, and other smaller items
You can spruce the kitchen up and give it a modern feel by simply replacing outdated hardware, upgrading faucets, installing new pantry storage devices, and doing other minimally invasive work. Although these kinds of tasks hardly qualify as a "remodel", doing so will nevertheless give your interior space a fresh and new feeling — and all without tearing your entire kitchen apart!
These kinds of tasks shouldn't take more than an hour or two of work, especially with help, and it's a high amount of reward for a minimal amount of work. Something just as easy but with an even greater impact, at least visually, is to upgrade your window curtains or blinds. With thicker curtains, you'll also be providing better insulation for your home.
For those eager to take on a more involved project, consider replacing the kitchen countertop(s). Though it's definitely more involved than most of these other projects, it only requires a single trip to bring the material in, meaning you won't need to go in and out of the house much. Unless you have the tools and experience, you'll likely want to hire this job out. Either way, the benefits of a new countertop are immense, especially if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen (and almost any quality kitchen remodel will have a high ROI value).
One bathroom remodeling that usually avoids plumbing entirely is to install a new bathroom vanity. A new vanity mirror will have a major impact on your enjoyment of the bathroom, and it's generally a very safe home improvement from the perspective of ROI, depending on the style you choose. Not only will a new vanity add beauty, but it will give a greater sense of size and depth to your bathroom as well. Consider how to best expand storage space when exploring new vanity options, and you'll improve the bathroom in two significant ways with one project.
On top of it all, installing a new vanity is generally quite easy; however, if your skill with drywall or tile isn't too strong, don't hesitate to hire a professional instead. Further, depending on the scope of the new installation, it may be logical to install new lighting in your bathroom while you're at it. All in all, there is little reason to delay this project on account of time alone.
Making the most of your home any time of the year
Because your home is your most important investment, don't fall into a habit of letting the time of year unnecessarily restrict your home improvement efforts. By keeping a good rhythm of regular home improvements throughout the year, no one project will be as likely to seem overwhelming to you — and if you have more than enough to do, it's helpful to plan your home improvements around the change of weather in a logical way.