Winter is Coming

winter-blog-small-1000x659Ol’ Man Winter is lurking around the corner. Here are some easy steps you can take to keep your home as toasty warm as possible without breaking the bank.




  1. Replace any old or single pane windows. Windows are one of the major ways heat leaks out of your house.
  2. Seal off drafty windows and patio doors with clear plastic.
  3. If you have doors to the outside that leak air, try sealing a few off using plastic or caulk putty.
  4. How old is your furnace?  If over 10 years old, there’s a chance it’s costing you a lot of money because it wastes a lot of fuel. Consider upgrading to a newer one.
  5. Insulate the hot water lines around your hot water heater and turn down the temperature of the water heater to the “warm” setting (120 degrees F). If leaving your home for extended periods, turn it to the “vacation” setting.
  6. Consider “blanketing” your water heater with faced fiberglass insulation. (Do not do this if you have a gas-powered water heater)
  7. Wrap any hot water pipes that run through unheated areas of the house. Also, you can insulate cold water pipes to help prevent them from freezing during the winter.
  8. Replace your furnace filter at the start of the furnace season and then about every 3 months.
  9. Make sure cold air returns aren’t blocked.  Your furnace needs these to operate efficiently.
  10. Try replacing the weather stripping around the doors in your home.
  11. Use a programmable thermostat to reduce heating costs when no one is at home.
  12. Uncover all south-facing windows to let all possible sunlight in your home.
  13. Keep all vents and baseboard heaters clean.
  14. If you have a fireplace, close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.
  15. If the damper is old or doesn’t close well, try putting some insulation in it to seal it off. Just remember to take it out before using it!
  16. If you like using a fireplace, consider getting an insert that will direct the heat into your house instead of just sending it up the chimney.
  17. Consider replacing all of your lightbulbs with energy-saving CFL bulbs.
  18. Install a timer on your water heater so it isn’t heating a whole tank of water when you don’t need it.
  19. Install foam insulators behind the face plates of light switches and electrical outlets.
  20. Check the insulation in the walls of your home. It might need some work in order to keep heat in efficiently.
  21. Reverse the direction of ceiling fans to push hot air downward and delay it from escaping the house.
  22. Consider hanging thermal curtains to help prevent drafts.
  23. Install a dryer vent seal to prevent cold air from traveling back into your home.
  24. There are attachments to vent your dryer inside your home so you don’t waste the heat and humidity. (Don’t try this if you have a gas-powered dryer).
  25. Check windows for leaks. Windows with wooden frames often warp and become inefficient.
  26. Caulk both sides of the trim around your windows.  This is an area where a lot of air can get in.
  27. Try not to use space heaters to heat large areas of your house. If you spend most of your time in one room in a large house, consider setting your thermostat low and using a small heater to heat where you are going to be.
  28. Keep all closet doors closed when possible. There’s no need to heat space that isn’t in use as long as it doesn’t contain water pipes.
  29. Make sure that your garage isn’t too drafty.
  30. Try to use the clothes dryer for consecutive loads of laundry. This conserves the energy that would be needed to heat up the dryer several times.
  31. Replace the caulking around any bathtubs or showers.
  32. If your home has folding attic stairs, consider insulating the door with a cover of some sort.
  33. If your home has a sliding glass door, check the seal on the bottom to make sure it isn’t letting in cold air.
  34. If your water heater needs to be upgraded, consider installing a tankless water heater.
  35. Use the oven for baking during colder hours of the day to help heat your home.
  36. Install storm doors to help keep out drafts.
  37. Use an energy monitor to tell you what appliances are using the most energy. This might help pinpoint areas where you can cut back on energy usage.
  38. Make sure that your duct system is working properly.
  39. Look into installing a geothermal heating system. While it is a bit expensive, initially, the energy savings provide a long-term cost benefit.
  40. Make sure that there aren’t any drafts coming in under doors. If there are, consider using a rubber strip to seal them off.
  41. Replace worn or missing shingles.
  42. Seal any cracks in the foundation of your house.
  43. Install a programmable Energy Star thermostat that will lower the temperature at night and when no one is at home.
  44. Close off rooms that aren’t used and shut the vents.
  45. Clean your shower head.  Tying a bag filled with white vinegar around the shower head overnight will greatly increase your water pressure and its efficiency.
  46. Change out the batteries in CO and smoke detectors!  Wintertime means increased risk from the dangers of fire or carbon monoxide due to increased use of heaters, fireplaces and candles.
  47. Wash your windows. By some estimates, dirty window glass cuts daylight by 20%. That’s a lot less light coming in at a time of year when you really need it to help chase away winter blues.

Our local PUD has more great energy saving tips and a wonderful rebate program on everything from light bulbs to geothermal heat systems.  You can even schedule a free energy survey of your home to find out exactly where your home may be working against your pocketbook.  Find out more here.

“I’m Bored!”

Not a phrase you hear often here, but sometimes, it can’t be helped.  Maybe you are new to the area and don’t realize all that is available to you in which to participate. Well, we have the answer(s) for you! Whether you like to hike, or enjoy other outdoor activities, it’s here for you.  Like art?  theater? dance? music? It’s all here!  One of the best compilations of area activities can be found here, courtesy of local publication, Tahoe Weekly.  So, get out there and ENJOY!1new

Tying Up Loose Ends


You can feel the change in the air.  The weather is starting to turn and there is a crispness to the days. While autumn is not far off, there are some late summer activities in which you can still partake.  The last of the Summer Movie Series will take place over Labor Day weekend, on September 3rd at 7:30pm at the Homeowner’s Beach (also known as Lot 1).  There will be s’mores and popcorn to go with a fun family movie.  A great summertime treat for the kiddos.  If you have questions, email Sharon Ruffner at

And although winter snows are not too far off, there is still an extreme fire danger situation here in our area.  For 2016, the Serene Lakes Property Owners Association is once again paying the costs of chipping green waste generated by property owners when they clean up their lots with defensible space work.  There is one last chipping date on Monday, September 19th that owners can take advantage of to make sure your lot is in tip top shape.  The chips generated can be blown back onto properties to use as mulch or ground cover.

You must sign up for the chipping program.  It does not happen automatically.  To sign up, go to the Fire Safety page on the SLPOA website and complete the chipping program form.  You must sign up at least one week in advance of the chip date in which you wish to participate.

If you have further questions, you can email, this year’s program coordinator.

And, it probably goes without saying but defensible space is a crucial element to keeping all Summit residents safe.  It improves not only the fire safety and overall look of our community but also our forest’s health.   Stay fire safe!

Summertime Adventures on the Summit

thSummer’s coming!  While planning your vacation or trip up to your cabin this summer, there’s a great option to consider for the younger members of the group.  When hanging with the grown ups ceases to be fun or you are just in the mood for a bit of adult time, check out the camps for kids at Sugarbowl.  They are offering Summer Adventure camps in partnership with the Gateway Mountain Center. Gateway is a leader in outdoor experiential adventure activities.  Their mission is to open young people’s hearts and minds to the natural world; we engage, impel and empower them to become knowledgeable, passionate, conscientious stewards – of themselves, their communities, the environment and our world.

Executive Director, Peter Mayfield, has an amazing resume.  He has designed and delivered creative and successful outdoor educational programs for thousands of California youth.  Peter has served as Chief Guide for the Yosemite Mountaineering School, and as Chief Examiner for the Professional Ski Instructors Association (Far West). As the founder and General Partner of CityRock Gym, the first large urban climbing gym, Peter was a catalyst for the growth of indoor climbing in North America. As a consultant Peter has designed and developed adventure programs for Disney, Discovery Communications, and Posades Resorts.  As a creative mountaineer Peter has succeeded on first ascents on Yosemite’s El Captain and Half Dome, climbed new routes in Peru, Patagonia, and the Alaska Range, and pioneered difficult snowboard descents.  And he has amassed an equally impressive staff.

Camps are arranged for specific timeframes and for specific ages, so that the activities will be age appropriate.  Campers can start as young as four years of age with a nature camp combining easy hikes, water play fun and nature art, storytelling and yoga.

Older campers can enjoy spectacular hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking , stand up paddle boarding, swimming, and whitewater rafting or inflatable kayaking.

And for the oldest age group there is also  an Adventure, Leadership, and Stewardship camp.  In addition to the fabulous outdoor adventures the campers will learn to become a thoughtful citizen of the world . The leadership portion will focus on communication, teaching skills, goal setting, becoming role models, and problem solving. Stewardship themed activities include, a conservation project, studying and employing Leave no Trace practices, teaching younger kids, and learning about sustainability and personal stewardship.

You can find all the information on the camp offerings here. Have a great summer!

Winterization Tips

pic 016 (2)Guidelines for Primary and Secondary Homeowners in the Truckee – Lake Tahoe Area

(This list may not be complete and is to be used as a guideline only.)

Preparing for Winter Weather Tips for All – Both Primary & Secondary Homeowners

1. Disconnect hoses from outside water spigots. Most homes in our area have “freeze proof” exterior water spigots. Thus, you only need to disconnect hoses from the water spigots so that water does not collect and freeze. Some older homes may not have “freeze proof” spigots. If you are not sure which type your home is equipped with, consult a local plumber for specialized instructions. Also, be sure to drain irrigation and sprinkler systems.

2. Caulk and maintain weather stripping. Ensure that your doors and windows are air tight; this will help reduce your heating bills. Maintain weather stripping around doors and use caulk on openings or outlets around pipes, foundation, windows, etc. For home use, four varieties of caulk: butyl, latex with silicone, acrylic with silicone, or tripolymer. (Don’t use just [straight] silicone caulk.) You want to stop any migration of water and air.

3. Insulate water lines. Put foam rubber insulation around hot and cold water pipes, you’ll increase efficiency and save energy. (You can buy it in a home store.)

4. Maintain heating units. Make sure your heating appliances are cleaned and serviced and ready for winter. Make sure your furnace filter is clean. Check that venting is clear and open.

5. Maintain chimneys and stovepipes. Have chimneys and stovepipes inspected & cleaned. (Be sure you have a high-quality chimney cap.)

6. Repair roof as needed. Check the roof of your home for missing shingles, shakes, or damaged materials (metal). Also, be sure to check around roof vents for any damaged materials. Repair as needed.

7. Close foundation vents. Clo se foundation vents when colder weather begins and reopen again in the spring for proper ventilation. (Some contractors suggest that you leave at least two sub-area vents, for cross ventilation, open year round for proper ventilation.)

8. Check your home insurance. For cold-weather homeowners, winter is a season that can bring damage from snow and ice, so it’s a good time of year to look at your homeowner’s policy.

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