Is your home insured for the climate of the future? Sadly, many homeowners learn the answer to this question the hard way.
Get the latest home insurance information by looking into these insurance-related topics:
What’s Covered? Knowing where your insurance is coming up short starts with knowing where it doesn’t. Are you covered for direct losses due to fire? How about windstorms and hail? This Guide to Homeowner’s Insurance is a great place to start.
Are You Maintaining a Safe and Insurable Home? The best way to never have to deal with insurance is to never have to use it. As devastating as some of the effects of climate change may be, they are made worse by an unsafe and unmaintained home. Your first step in mitigating disaster is to do a routine safety check of the house. Here’s how.
Do I qualify for Flood Insurance? The widespread flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy has many homeowners looking into flood insurance. It can be as big a quagmire as the floods themselves. Where do I go for flood insurance? What is covered? What is the deductible? We’ve answered some of these questions in our Flood Insurance Guide.
For more information on your home’s insurance, check out these additional resources:
National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s Guide to Homeowner’s Insurance
How to Find the Right Insurance for your Home
The country is coming off one of the hottest summers in recorded history. No one wants to be sweating in bed at night, but no one wants to be spending hundreds of dollars on cooling costs each month, either. So before you go investing in three more window AC units, adopt these passive cooling practices first:
Be Shady. Those curtains are not for show. As the sun starts to rise on a hot summer’s day, close the curtains, shades and blinds to keep the rays from heating up the home. This small, easy step will go a long way in curtailing solar heat gain.
Make Your Appliances Nocturnal. Dishwashers, dryers, computers and media gadgets all give off heat — some much more than others. When possible, run these units at night.
Cook Outdoors. Running the oven in the summer is like having a fire going in the wood stove. It’s brutal. Try to do all the home cooking on the grill outside (in the shade!) to keep the kitchen cool.
Let the Home Breathe. Inevitably, a home is going to get warmer during the day as the sun beats down. You can limit the heat gain by allowing air to move freely through the home and by harnessing that fundamental principle of physics: heat rises. To start, keep those windows open during the cooler hours of the night and morning. Use fans to pull the cool air into the room and home. Open windows on opposite sides of the room and home to create cross ventilation. For maximum cooling during the day, you should open windows on the bottom floor on one side of the house and on the opposite side of the house on the second floor. This will encourage the warm air to rise and escape.
Choose Cool Colors. Lighter colors will reflect the sun. Choosing light colors for the roof, the exterior, window coverings and interior walls will all reduce heat gain during the hot, summer months.
For more information on Passive Cooling, check out:
Cooling Your Home Naturally
Passive House Institute
If there’s one thing Hurricane Sandy taught us, it’s that we can expect bigger, badder storms with climate change. And not just hurricanes, either. Winter storms pose just as big a threat, and the older models that could predict where, when and how often are proving to be outdated.
Is your home storm-ready? Here are a few ways you can make sure it is:
Assemble Your Disaster Kit. A disaster kit contains some essentials for getting through the first few days following a storm or disaster. A kit should include water (a gallon per person per day for three days), food (three-day supply, non-perishable), a radio (battery-powered or hand crank), flashlight and batteries, first aid kit and a whistle for calling for help. Want a more complete list? Go to Ready.gov.
Build a Safe Room. It may sound extreme, but a safe room will provide the highest measure of protection for you and your family in the event of extreme winds and in instances where debris impact is likely. Safe rooms can be built on site but also come manufactured and ready to install in new or existing homes. For a closer look at installing a safe room in your home, read this guide.
Stay Safe After the Storm. Surviving the storm is one thing. Surviving the aftermath is another. When the winds have passed and the waters recede, many have a tendency to rush outside or fall immediately into routine. This can often result in a fatal outcome. Downed power lines, gas leaks and falling limbs or trees pose just as great a threat as the storm itself. Follow this guide to Post-Storm Safety Steps.
For more information on Storm Readiness, check out these resources:
Federal Alliance for Safe Homes
FEMA’s “Ready.gov” website
2012 saw over half of the land of the lower 48 states experience drought, making it one of the worst drought seasons on record. Water is looking more and more like our most precious resource — and its conservation our most immediate concern.
Fortunately, there are numerous steps one can take around the home to conserve water:
Install Water-Saving Fixtures. Nearly every fixture that uses water in your home — including faucets, shower heads, toilets and dish/clothes washers — come in water-saving form. The best approach is to look for the WaterSense label (it’s the EPA’s water-saving version of EnergyStar). Here’s how to understand and shop for WaterSense products.
Limit Landscaping. We’re not saying don’t landscape. We’re saying integrate landscaping features that don’t require gallons of water every day. Yes, this means re-evaluating that lush, green lawn and replacing it with some xeriscaping. What’s xeriscaping? It’s a form of landscaping being more widely adopted in water-strapped areas. And it’s very much worth looking into.
Reclaim Water. Even in times of drought, water can fall. Sure, it might not be enough to rally a crop or green up the lawn, but it can be put to use by the home. A rain barrel collects water as it falls on the roof and runs down the gutters. The water can be used for a host of household purposes, from irrigation to radiant heating and more. Watch how to install one on your home.
For more information on Water Conservation, check out:
Water Saving Solutions
There’s a reason climate scientists quickly changed the phrase from “global warming” to “climate change,” and that’s because not everyone is simply going to see the mercury climb. The changes occurring on a global scale can also result in extreme lows and “unseasonable” weather in any number of locations across the globe.
The short of it? Be prepared for anything. And that includes cold weather.
To maximize heating in the home without driving heating prices through the roof, homeowners should look to take advantage of the following passive heating techniques and designs:
Solar Windows. South-facing windows play a critical role in a home’s overall passive heating scheme. These features become even more important in the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky. Just keep in mind that furniture and carpet exposed to long periods of sun may fade prematurely.
Heat Storage. Part of the heat gained through solar windows will inevitably be used right away as the temperature in the room (and surrounding rooms) will rise. But that heat can also be stored in natural thermal masses such as walls, floors and ceilings. When designing a south-facing room, consider using materials that will “hold” the heat for longer periods of time. Dark-colored masonry is preferred, here. As the room cools during the night, the stored heat radiates into the room.
Solar (Sun) Rooms The Solar Room — also called a sunroom or sunspace — is something akin to a 3-season room, save that it features a greater abundance of glass. The heat gained through these rooms in the winter is somewhat confined to the room itself, and the room can experience temperature swings, although this can be controlled using thermal mass (see above) and low-emissivity windows. The added bonus is a greater connection to the outdoor space.
For more information on Passive Heating, check out:
Passive Solar Design for the Home
Passive House Institute
Understanding Low-e Windows