ROSIE ON THE HOUSE

Essential comprehensive guide that every new Arizonan should read

Feb 15, 2024, 3:00 PM

Living in Arizona is unlike living anywhere else, so here are a few important things every new resi...

Living in Arizona is unlike living anywhere else, so here are a few important things every new resident needs to know. (AP File Photo)

(AP File Photo)

Are you new to Arizona? If so, welcome!

Living in Arizona is unlike living anywhere else. Of course, we have the heat, but we also see freezing temperatures and snow. Our landscape and home care are very different than where you may have come from. Here are a few important things every Arizona resident needs to know.

Heat & Sun

It gets extremely hot here.

You must keep hydrated. Always carry cold, fresh water everywhere, especially in the hotter months. Keep a cooler of cold water or sports drinks in your vehicle. A cooler is also helpful when going grocery shopping. A gallon of ice cream will melt in minutes without it!

Avoid long walks and hikes in the high heat of mid-day. A Cold Rush Towel around your neck will also help keep you cool. If you go for a hike, take much more than an 8-oz. bottle of water. You may think you like the heat, but it doesn’t take long for heat stroke to occur.

Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen when out and about.

Wear sunscreen in the car, too. You can get a sunburn through the windows.

Don’t trot out to the mailbox in July without shoes. Otherwise, you will burn your feet.

Keep a towel in your car, even oven mitts. In the summer, our cars are hotter than Mt. Vesuvius. If you don’t have cloth seats or seat covers, place a towel on your seat and over the shift. Put a cover on the steering wheel.

When the air conditioning is near freezing in every restaurant and movie theater, you will wish you had a sweater. Always keep a light sweater or jacket in your car.

Arizona is a great place for kids. They can spend all year outside in the sun. However, our sun can be tough on them too. Make sure they are not outside playing in the heat of the day. Slather them in sunscreen before they go outside and send them out with plenty of cold water.

Never ever leave children unattended in a hot car, in the pool, or even in the backyard with a pool or spa unattended.

The same can be said for older people too, as they can get overcome with the heat very quickly. Make sure their air conditioner is in good working condition. The heat is not something to mess around with here.

Stupid Motorist Law

“The Stupid Motorist Law” is a real law, and you feel quite stupid if you break it.

Particularly during the monsoons, rain is so abundant that our hard soil can’t soak it up as quickly as it falls, and therefore we experience flash floods. Despite barricades at flood zones with signs saying, “DO NOT CROSS,” people still ignore them, try to cross, and need to be rescued. Thus, the term and law.

Click here to read the statute.

Don’t do something stupid like driving around a barricade. Not only will you be putting yourself and your passengers in harm’s way, but you could also be putting the lives of the rescuers in peril.

Home Maintenance

Maintaining a home in Arizona is very different than in the Midwest, East Coast, and West Coast.

Water

Arizona’s water is so hard that you could break a tooth! Okay, not that hard, but it is hard water.

The hardness is caused by compounds of calcium, magnesium, and metals. The “hardness” of the water flowing into your home depends on how many grains of the minerals it contains per gallon. The water is drinkable, but you may not like the taste or the buildup on your faucets. Plus, the mineral deposits are a pain to remove if they build up.

Invest in a water treatment system. A water softener removes the minerals that make the water “hard” all over the house. An activated carbon charcoal filter on a reverse osmosis (RO) system will finish the job of removing floaties and chlorine.

Check out Rosie’s Water Filtration Guide.

Most of Arizona is a desert. Therefore, conserving water is important. Check out these tips for conserving water.

Supercooling

We tend to turn on our air conditioning units as early as March and sometimes don’t turn them off until October. It can get expensive if you constantly adjust the temperature. Keep your electric bill in check by supercooling your home.

Here’s how:

  1. Make sure you are on a time-of-use power plan first.
  2. Turn your air conditioning down as low as 68 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit during your off-peak hours. This will cool your whole house down to the studs. It will cool the walls, the clothing in your closets, and the carpet under the couch. When your off-peak hours are over, that cooling will last and carry you through your on-peak hours.
  3. Turn your air conditioning up to 78-85 degrees Fahrenheit during your on-peak hours. This will allow it to shut off and save you money during the most expensive time of day. The coolness you built up during your off-peak hours should last well into the evening before your air conditioner needs to cool you down again.
  4. During the on-peak time, try not to run other appliances, heat the house by cooking, or leave doors open for extended periods. Lock in that cool air!
  5. Time your pumps and electric water heaters to never turn on during peak hours.

Hire a qualified HVAC contractor to perform a whole-house energy audit or home performance audit.

An energy specialist will take an in-depth look at your home’s typical and atypical energy loss points. Using thermal imaging technology to see what the unaided eye can’t. A series of tests will ensure the gas appliances are working properly, and the windows and doors aren’t drafty. Once the specialist knows exactly where your home’s energy loss is coming from, they will tell you what you can do to solve the problem.

Shade

Shade is at a premium in Arizona. Many of us will circle a parking lot for 10 minutes to look for a parking spot in the shade.

Keep a window shade in your car. If you do a lot of driving, add the rolldown shades that you can place on the side windows to keep the sun from penetrating through the glass.

Invest in shade screens for your home.

You can also strategically plant a tree on the south or west side of your home to reduce the energy it takes to cool your house down. Rosie recommends, “Homeowners should consider the mature size of the tree you choose before planting. Plant far enough from the home that the roots won’t interfere with the foundation. Also, branches overhanging the roof can cause damage to the roof and provide a highway for critters to get on the house and into the attic.”

Shade sails are very popular. Rosie cautions that they are not a DIY project and should be designed by a licensed structural engineer. If they are bolted to a fascia, they can rip the entire fascia off the house during high winds. If poles are used to support a sail, they will require massive footings to keep them from being pulled out of the ground in high winds.

Dust

You will be amazed at how much dust will accumulate in your home every week, especially when you keep the windows open. Invest in a quality duster. Take it a step further and install an air purifier in your home.

Valley Fever, a fungal infection caused by organisms, can cause a fever, cough, and tiredness. The fungi are commonly found in soil in specific regions, such as Arizona. The fungi’s spores can be stirred into the air by anything that disrupts the soil, such as farming, construction, and wind.

People can then breathe the fungi into their lungs. Mild cases of Valley Fever usually resolve on their own. In more severe cases, doctors treat the infection with antifungal medications. Animals can also get Valley Fever. For them, it can be extremely dangerous.

Dust storms, also called haboobs, are common and can develop quickly, especially along the interstates. You must know what to do when driving in a dust storm. Tips for driving in a dust storm.

Landscaping

We are all about landscaping with trees and plants native to Arizona that do not require a lot of water. Before you design your landscape, there are gardens you should visit to get ideas.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. In fact, in most cases, it’s not there at all. Unless you live in a flood irrigation zone, you will have to rely on a small patch for your pets or artificial turf.

Pet Care

Never leave your pets unattended in the car.

It is inhumane and against the law. Under A.R.S. 13-2910, it is considered animal cruelty if a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly leaves an animal unattended and confined in a motor vehicle, and physical injury to or death of the animal is likely to result.

Walk your dog early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the hottest part of the day. If your dog must go outside on the pavement mid-day during the hottest months, use protective paw booties. Make sure your pets have plenty of cold, fresh water and shade all day if they will be outside.

If you can’t stand the heat of an unconditioned car or the pavement on bare feet, your pet can’t either.

See a stray dog? Before trying to rescue it, make sure it’s not a coyote. Speaking of coyotes, don’t leave pets unattended outside. Coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, hawks, and owls can easily scoop them away from your yard.

Click here for more pet safety tips.

Hello Arizona!

There is so much to do and see outside of your home. Visit Arizona offers ideas for places to visit throughout our state as you get acclimated to becoming a “Zonie.” Be sure to sign up for a chance to win a Rosie on the House Staycation, too!

Tune in to Rosie on the House each Saturday and subscribe to our weekly newsletter to learn more about maintaining your Arizona home.

We are here to be every Arizona homeowner’s best friend. We love helping new residents navigate their new homes as it is so different here than anywhere else. From heat packs to flat roofs to water softeners, let Rosie on the House guide you through making your Arizona house a home.

Welcome home!

Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email info@rosieonthehouse.com. Follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions & comments.

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