5 Things to Do to Get Fresh Air in KW This Summer

After being cooped up in the house from all the rain this spring, it’s time to transition from cool days spent indoors to the promise of better weather and sunny skies with great outdoor activities. Afterglow has you covered with five things to do in KW to get fresh air this season:

Image courtesy of: http://www.thehydrocut.ca

1) Hydrocut Trails

The Hydrocut Trails with over 30km of combined 26 trails, KW’s Hydrocut Trails is one of the top mountain bike riding locations in Ontario. The trails are free to use and have a variation of novice, intermediate, and expert trails — fun for everyone, even the kids! Owned and operated by the Waterloo Cycling Club, there are different rides each week ranging from ladies rides, to novice rides, to skills rides. The trails are a great way to take in the summer air while trying your hand at something new.

Image courtesy of: Twitter @ParkMoviesKW

2) Movies in the Park at Waterloo Park

Every Summer, Princess Cinemas teams up with The Beat Goes on to present free movies in the park in July and August. Attendees are encouraged to bring a donation for the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. What better way to get fresh air than by watching a movie in the great outdoors and contributing to a good cause? Stay tuned to the @ParkMoviesKW Twitter account for screening dates.

Image courtesy of: The Cord

3) Picnic in Victoria Park

If you’re looking for a free and fun way to spend some quality time with your friends and family, then fill your cooler up with snacks and beverages, grab a big blanket, and head on over to Victoria Park for a delicious afternoon in Kitchener’s oldest and most beautiful park. Once you’re done eating, you can head on over to the man-made lake and watch the geese swim or enjoy the live music playing at the historic Boathouse.

Image courtesy of: Explore Waterloo Region

4) St. Jacob’s Farmer’s Market

Every Thursday and Saturday, take a stroll around the St. Jacob’s Farmer’s Market where you can purchase local produce, delectable meats and cheeses, baked goods and more. Even if you don’t want to cash out, you can always enjoy the atmosphere. The vendors and the aromas of all the delicious foods alone will make you want to stay all day.

Image courtesy of Herrle’s

5) Strawberry Picking at Herrle’s

10 acres of fresh strawberries ready for picking, all in the open air! Come to Herrle’s in mid-June when strawberry picking season is at its peak. The best times for berry picking are early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. Visit Herrle’s website for more information on the best practices for strawberry picking and for updates on season opening dates.

Contact Afterglow to ensure the air quality in your home is as fresh as it is outside! You can count on us for honest, professional service to keep your home comfortable and a low-pressure sales team to answer all your questions. For service emergencies, call 519-747-7732 for a guaranteed response time of four hours or less.

Common mistakes when transitioning from Winter to Spring

It’s easy to get excited about the warmer weather but forgetting to properly transition your home from winter to spring can quickly disrupt your fun in the sun. Before you completely push the winter months out of your mind, it is important to know the common mistakes made when transitioning from season to season. Luckily, Afterglow knows the top three most common mistakes you should avoid to ensure you and your home are completely ready for a beautiful spring season.

Mistake #1 – Assume everything is fine

One of the most common mistakes when transitioning from season to season is assuming everything is in good shape simply because you checked it at the end of the last season. In reality, the opposite is true, especially between winter and spring. To get your house ready for the wet spring weather, you’ll first need to assess the extent of the damage caused by the ice and snow. A quick, basic inspection includes checking the gutters and roof for any damage, verifying that all the pipes made it through the cold without breaking, and ensuring that windows and doors are still properly sealed to prevent your heating/cooling bills from increasing.

Mistake #2 – Assume that snow is the only thing collecting in the gutters

If you cleaned your gutters before winter began there shouldn’t be a lot to clean out now, but it’s still important to check on them. At the base of the gutters clean up any twigs, leaves or other debris that may have gathered over the winter so it will be able to flow correctly. If there’s any remaining ice you can add some ice melt tablets or de-icing salt to get it running and make sure that they are flowing properly to prevent flooding. If gutters are clogged, water will overflow onto or into the house and also will be trapped in the gutter after rain. This moisture will cause rot in wood fascia and soffit boards (the wood near where gutters are attached).

Mistake #3 – Forgetting to check vents and filters

Your new motto is: if it has a screen, it should be cleaned!

All winter, any exterior ventilation has been closed off by snow, ice or your run-of-the-mill yard debris. Cleaning these areas will help them start the drying out process by allowing the spring airflow to come through. Vents can usually be found under the eaves and around the base of the home. Mend or replace broken screens and remove any debris that may block it. Another important vent to check is the dryer vent which should be cleaned or replaced every six months or it could overheat and start a fire. Finally, clean (or replace) the filters for your A/C unit so you don’t run into any hiccups in the middle of a heat wave this year!

Contact Afterglow for your Spring-prep needs! You can count on us for honest, professional service to keep your home comfortable and a low-pressure sales team to answer all your questions. For  service emergencies, call 519-747-7732 for a guaranteed response time of four hours or less.

Preparing Your Home For Spring

Spring has sprung, Waterloo Region! The sun is shining, the snow is melting and it’s time to not only transition your wardrobe, but your home as well! With warmer weather on the horizon, it is important to follow Afterglow’s steps for a quick check-up to make sure you can enjoy the sun without any looming potential-headaches.

Go for a walk (around your house)

During the winter months, the exterior of your home will be exposed to more potential damage than the inside so this is where your check-up should start! Walk around your home and examine caulking around the outside of windows and doors. You should also open those windows and doors and examine the weather stripping. Replace old or cracking caulk and worn weather stripping where necessary to prevent drafts and increased HVAC bills.

Clear the gutters

While you’re walking around your home, you should also take a second lap to check your gutters! Loose or leaky gutters can lead to improper drainage, which can result in water seeping into your basement or crawl space. Finally, make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.

Double check the AC unit

Nothing is worse than when the first heat wave hits and you realize your AC unit has been damaged during the winter. Before the heat is here to stay, contact your local qualified heating and cooling contractor to clean and service your outside unit of the air conditioning system. When the AC unit has clean coils it will operate more efficiently.

Out with the old, in with the new!

With so much more sunlight filling your home, it’s easier to see just how much dust has settled throughout the winter. One thing that may not visibly need cleaning and is easily overlooked is the indoor air quality. Springtime means the return of airborne allergens such as pollen and mold spores, which can cause a lot of unpleasant allergy-related symptoms. Open up your windows to let the stale air out and the fresh air in! Afterglow can also provide maintenance on your air ventilation systems to ensure you and your family is breathing in only the freshest air.

Contact Afterglow for your Spring-prep needs! You can count on us for honest, professional service to keep your home comfortable and a low-pressure sales team to answer all your questions. For service emergencies, call 519-747-7732 for a guaranteed response time of four hours or less.

Preparing Your Home for March Break

With March break right around the corner, it’s easy to get excited about spending quality time relaxing with your family — and forget about protecting your home. Afterglow has five tips for prepping your home before you pack up and go so you can enjoy your well-deserved vacation worry-free.

Unplug before you unwind

The majority of your appliances don’t need to run while you’re out of town. Microwaves, lamps, floor fans, internet modems, gaming consoles, and computers can all take a power-nap in your absence. But just turning them off isn’t enough — unplug to cut off power drain to save money on your electric bill.

Attending to your devices isn’t just about protecting your finances. If a power surge occurs while you’re away, it could fry your appliances and electronics or even cause a malfunction. Sometimes a surge will cause a garage door to open on its own, which can make your empty house an easy target for curious animals or thieves.

Turn off your water supply

You may also want to consider turning off the water supply. Once the water supply has been turned off, pipes should be drained of any remaining water by turning on all of your faucets until they run dry. Make sure to also flush all toilets to clear water from the tanks and bowls. For peace of mind, you can also put nontoxic plumbing antifreeze in the tanks and bowls to prevent any remaining water from freezing and cracking the porcelain or piping.

If your home uses a boiler system for heating, you’ll want to first consult a professional to ensure it’s safe to cut off the water. If your home has a fire sprinkler system, keep the water supply on.

Adjust the thermostat, stat!

When you leave your home during the winter months, it isn’t efficient to keep it toasty warm inside. Home advisor recommends turning the thermostat down to about 14 degrees Celsius (55 Fahrenheit) when you are away. Lowering the temperature will not only cut back on unnecessary energy costs but also maintain a comfortable environment for your plants, pets, electronics, and plumbing systems.

Call in a favour

Give a trusted friend, neighbor or relative access to your home so they can regularly monitor heating, electrical and water systems and be available in case for emergencies. You should also leave them with your contact information and a list of local contractors they can reach if repairs or service are needed.

If you want to take extra precautions, notify the police department that your home will be vacant, and provide emergency numbers.

Routine maintenance

Keeping up with regular maintenance in your home can help with a smooth transition for a week away. Periodically do an interior walkthrough of your home to check any weather stripping for leaks and drafts near windows and doorways. It’s also very important to ensure there are fire and smoke detectors on every floor and all have fresh batteries.

Last but certainly not least, double check that all exterior doors and windows are closed and locked, including pet doors!

Whether you are spending your time skiing down mountains or flying south to escape the cold, Afterglow can make sure your home’s HVAC is safe, secure and ready for your return.

Winter Energy Saving Tips for Inside and Outside Your Home

A survey conducted by Environics Research found that 78% of Canadians are looking for ways to boost energy efficiency in their homes. As the temperatures plummet in winter, home heating costs can rise. Here are a few ways to stay nice and cozy with your home, energy bill and environmental footprint:

Winterizing your home on the outside

It may seem counterintuitive that what’s going outside of your home affects what happens with your energy efficiency inside your home, but little things on the outside can make a big difference to managing indoor comfort and energy costs.

Check the frames around exterior windows and doors (including your garage door). If you see cracks or gaps, seal them up with acrylic, latex or rubber caulking (avoid fast drying varieties for outside) or weather stripping (standard or tape format).

If you have storm windows, change the screens. And if you have siding on your home, check to see if it’s in good condition with no cracks or gaps. Any small leaks will cause you to lose heat from your home. These little leaks will make your furnace work harder and drive up your winter heating bill.

One more place to check — your gutters or eavestrough as we like to call it in Canada. Leaves, dirt and debris from shingles can clog gutters. In winter this can lead to ice jams that have the potential to damage your roof. Not only is this an expensive repair, a gap in your roof can also be a heat leak.

Home energy savings tips for inside

Inside your home, check the windows and doors for gaps, using caulking or weatherstripping to fill any spaces you find. If you have a drafty window, install blinds or heavy curtains. Conversely, take advantage of direct sunlight to get an energy and mood boost from Mother Nature.

Ideal indoor temperatures for Canadian homes in the winter

Another way to save money on home heating during the winter is to set your thermostat to the ideal temperature. If you’re home during the day, the ideal temperature is 20 to 22°C. When you’re away or asleep, the ideal range is 17 to 19°F.

If you can hack it, put on a sweater and turn down the heat another degree or two during the day. Every degree you can lower the heat during the day or night will help you lower your home heating costs.

A digital or smart thermostat also lets you set daytime and nighttime programs to control the temperature in your home.   

More ways to boost the energy efficiency of your furnace

Before winter’s freezing temperatures arrive to stay, schedule a winter check-up for your furnace. This will ensure that your furnace won’t fail during when the mercury drops and that your furnace is working at peak performance. Changing your filter on a regular basis also helps maintain the efficiency of your furnace.

If you’re planning to replace your furnace, newer furnaces are more energy efficient. Furnace efficiency is measured by something called Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). The higher the AFUE, the more efficient the furnace. Furnaces with an AFUE rating of 95% or higher are considered Energy Star certified.

Advanced features, like variable speed and multi-stage blower motors also boost energy efficiency.

Warm up to saving energy

While winter’s already begun, there’s still time to have your furnace serviced or find out more about replacing an older furnace. Contact Afterglow for your winterizing needs! You can count on us for honest, professional service to keep your home comfortable and a low-pressure sales team to answer all your questions. For service emergencies, call 519-747-7732 for a guaranteed response time of four hours or less.  

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