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How to Keep AC in the Cottage and Beat the Heat

The early days of summer have been marked by prolonged heat waves around much of Ontario, leaving Muskoka cottage owners to find ways to beat the heat inside and outside. With plenty more hot weather on the way, it’s a good idea for cottage owners to consider ways to cool down their cottage – it makes sleeping easier, and increases your comfort on days when going outside isn’t an option due to rain blended with sky-high temperatures. Air conditioning is a no-brainer when it comes to cooling down during a heatwave.

Cottage owners without central air
Central air has become a necessity for many Canadians looking to stay comfortable all summer long, but many cottage owners don’t have the luxury of having central air – especially in older cottages. Thankfully, there are plenty of effective and affordable options if you don’t have central air. There’s a good chance that you already have a traditional window-shaker style air conditioner in your bedroom or living area, which is the perfect start for cooling down your cottage during a heat wave. When installing a room air conditioner, ensure that you have cushioning and gaskets in place so that you do not damage your window frames. Most units of this style come with the necessary accessories to do this.

If room air conditioners aren’t an option, or if you’re looking for something a little more pleasing to the eye, you should consider a portable AC unit. Portable air conditioners are easy to move from room-to-room, making it the perfect option for cooling down your home office during the day, living area in the evening, and bedroom at night. In addition to AC, you can keep things cool using ceiling fans, which should be run counterclockwise during the summer months to push cool air down. If you’re really looking to cool things down, combining an air conditioner with a ceiling fan running counterclockwise will ensure that the cool air generated by the AC is constantly pushed back down in a column, keeping you comfortable in even the hottest weather.

Keeping cool air inside and circulating it around your cottage
Now that there’s cool air making its way inside your cottage, it’s critical that you be able to keep it inside. Not only will your energy bills be lower, but you’ll be far more comfortable all day long. The best way to keep AC in the cottage is to close all the windows, blinds, and curtains to keep out the sun, and close doors to unused rooms to prevent cool air from getting into them – after all, if you’re not using it, it doesn’t need to be cooled. While cooling your cottage, try to avoid using heat-generating appliances, which means no laundry, no stove, and no oven.

After taking these proactive measures, you can work on circulating cool air around the cottage – you can do this easily by ensuring that doors to unused rooms are shut, and fans are placed strategically to circulate cool air from your air conditioned room(s) into living and working areas for maximum coverage.

The important role played by windows
If you find that you just can’t seem to keep your cottage cool on hot days, the culprit could very well be those old, leaky windows you’ve been meaning to replace. Old windows are often the cause of major energy loss in your home (up to 30%), meaning that the cool air being generated by your AC and fans is being let out of your cottage by your windows.

The only way to prevent this is to replace your windows with energy-efficient windows with low-E films. Energy-efficient windows have been shown to reduce energy loss by 30-50%, keeping the cool air in your cottage during the summer, and the warm air inside during the winter months. In addition to replacing your windows, you can do things like check your existing windows for air leaks, and install weatherstripping, storm windows, and exterior shading. The experienced team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre can help you beat the heat this summer. Our showroom features a wide range of energy efficient windows and doors that are perfect for keeping the cool air inside your cottage where it belongs. To get started on your window replacement, contact Muskoka Window & Door Centre today.

Property Management Company for Renting Out Your Cottage: A Wise Decision?

Cottages provide the ultimate getaway all year long – whether you’re looking to enjoy a summer on the water or a cozy winter in the countryside, cottages offer everybody a little something. If you’re a cottage owner, you may have already considered renting out your cottage when you’re away for extended periods of time. Not only can renting out your cottage put a little extra cash in your pocket, but it’s also a great way to ensure that it’s looked after year round rather than just sitting there unenjoyed. If handled properly, you’ll be able to use your rental property to provide a beautiful getaway for you and your family, and for supplementary income during the off season.

While renting out the cottage has a great many benefits, it can also come with a lot of work. From regular maintenance to meeting and communicating with potential renters, it can be very time consuming – especially if you live a considerable distance from your cottage. This is why many cottage owners seek out the services of a property management company to take care of these things for them.

What is property management and why would I want it?
Your rental cottage is an investment, and needs to be handled effectively in order to continue providing you with supplemental income. Property managers are third-party companies hired by property owners to oversee the day-to-day operations of the property. This means that property management companies handle a wide variety of responsibilities, including ensuring that it’s rented out, screening potential renters, marketing the property, handling maintenance and repairs, and communicating with renters to solve issues when they may arise.

Property management companies can be a saving grace for cottage owners who wish to rent out their property when it’s not in use, but live too far away from the cottage to realistically be able to check in with renters and handle maintenance issues. This is especially convenient in emergency situations where essential utilities have failed or the property requires immediate repair due to a severe storm or other major event.

It’s also worth noting that during the COVID-19 pandemic, this saves you unnecessary travel and puts cleaning and sanitizing your cottage between guests in the hands of professionals who are best equipped to perform this service. 

Not only are property managers incredibly useful if you’re not in close proximity to your cottage, but they also save you a great deal of time. Whether it’s screening renters, communicating with them, or conducting maintenance and inspection visits, it’s going to significantly eat into your limited free time. Rather than handle it yourself and take time out of your days off or whenever you have a free minute, you’ll have a designated property manager who can respond to issues instantly.

Finding a property management company that suits your needs
Finding a suitable property management company to look after your cottage can be difficult, especially if you’ve never dealt with a proper manager before. The first thing you should do is reach out to friends and family members who have rented out their property – they may have recommendations for property managers you can use. Local realtors can also be a good source for reliable property management references, and may even offer these services themselves. 

Once you’ve tracked down local property management companies, you’ll need to do your due diligence by researching each recommendation you’ve received. Read online reviews to get a feel of what other cottage owners have experienced and what the company specializes in. You’ll want to ensure that the company you choose is experienced in marketing and screening so that you can be sure that your cottage is consistently rented, and that they choose reliable tenants. If possible during the pandemic, you’ll want to meet them in person to make sure they are someone you will want your tenants to have contact with if needed.  

You’ll also want to make sure that your rental is priced properly to include property management services so that you aren’t losing money on the deal. In many cases, this will mean raising your rates, but with current restrictions on international travel causing increased demand this is something many cottage owners are doing anyway. 

Why wouldn’t you hire a property management company?
 The only reasons not to hire a property management company are the additional costs and the potential that you do not have a reliable property manager in your area. While we’ve addressed additional costs with the fact that a raise in rates is completely acceptable in the current climate, having no property manager may be preferable to having an unreliable one. As the COVID-19 pandemic subsides and international travel becomes available, there is a long-term potential that a property management company’s services may become too expensive if rental rates start to drop — but most keep their fees reasonable so that cottage owners can continue to hire them. 

The decision is yours to make – remember not to rush into a decision, and to always trust your gut. With any luck, you’ll find a reliable local property management company to ensure that your cottage is consistently rented out and taken care of during the off season.

The Muskoka Window & Door Centre showroom features a wide range of energy efficient windows and doors that can help you make a statement with your cottage, increasing energy efficiency and keeping your property more comfortable all year long. To speak with one of our window installation experts, contact Muskoka Window & Door Centre today.

Summer 2020 in Muskoka: Activities for Everyone

As Ontario moves into Phase 3 of its reopening plan, favourite summertime events are once again beginning to pop up all around the Muskoka region. Most of the traditional summer happenings have been modified to be socially distanced and sanitized, letting you and your family enjoy live music, art, and much more – all while staying safe and avoiding the risk of COVID-19. From drive-in concerts to outdoor activities, there’s no shortage of things to do around the Muskoka region.

Before you get out, remember to check the COVID-19 protocols of each venue and location, as each will have their own rules and preferences. Bring your mask, hand sanitizer, and remember to have fun!

If you and the family are looking for fun activities to mark what’s sure to be a memorable summer, be sure to check out some of these great Muskoka events:

July 18th & 19th – Scott Barnim in the Garden
Where: Oxtongue Craft Cabin & Gallery in Dwight, ON
When: Saturday, July 18th (10:00 AM to 5:00 PM) & Sunday, July 19th (11:00 AM to 4:00 PM)
Cost: Free

The best way to enjoy the summer is to get out and enjoy the beautiful things all around you. On July 18th and 19th, the Oxtongue Craft Cabin and Gallery is celebrating the work of renowned ceramist Scott Barnim, who will be showing off his gorgeous pottery live and in person. Scott’s whimsical and brilliantly coloured work has been a staple of the gallery for decades, and can be found in many collections all around the world. This is an excellent opportunity to meet a celebrated artist and take a look at some of Muskoka’s finest art. Before you go, make sure to read Oxtongue Craft Cabin & Gallery’s COVID protocols.

For more information, visit their website.

July 24th – Everything Anne of Green Gables Day
Where: Bala Museum in Bala, ON
When: Friday, July 24th at 1:30 PM
Cost: $5.99 per person or $19.99 per family

Canadian author L.M. Montgomery, famous for writing Anne of Green Gables, came to Bala in 1922. Every year, the people of Bala gather at the Bala Museum to re-enact her arrival in the Muskoka region, holding a full afternoon of family fun, including egg-on-a-spoon races, 3-legged races, sack races, costume prizes, and so much more. The fun kicks off at the Bala Museum at 1:30 – make sure to bring your best costumes. The cost of admission includes a full tour of the Bala Museum.

More information about Everything Anne of Green Gables Day is available at their website.

August 1st – Surviving Cabin Fever – A Pop Up Art Show
Where: Morgan House B&B in Huntsville, ON
When: Saturday, August 1st from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

The world found out quickly about the realities of cabin fever, taking up various hobbies and interests to keep it at bay. On August 1st, the Huntsville Art Society presents a pop up art show at the Morgan House B&B where you can safely enjoy the work that has kept Muskoka’s artists occupied (and sane) during these trying times. A mask is required for attendance, and social distancing rules will be strictly observed.

For more information about the pop up art show, visit the Huntsville Art Society’s website.

August 7th & 8th – Celebrate Gravenhurst Street Festival & Sidewalk Sale
Where: Gravenhurst, ON
When: Friday, August 7th & Saturday, August 8th
Cost: Free

Celebrate all things Gravenhurst in the historic downtown area, where you’ll be able to enjoy two full days of local shopping opportunities, live entertainment, and family fun. The Street Festival gives you an excellent opportunity to explore Historic Downtown Gravenhurst and take in everything that the area has to offer.

For more information on the event, visit the Historic Downtown Gravenhurst website.

August 9th to August 18th – Windermere Village Arts and Heritage Festival
Where: Windermere, ON
When: Sunday, August 9th to Sunday, August 16th
Cost: Free

The second annual Windermere Village Festival of the Arts is held throughout the village of Windermere, allowing you to enjoy a full week of family fun events. This year’s event features local artists and authors, the Heritage Walk, Flavours of Muskoka Chautauqua, Dinner Theatre, live music, and so much more. Due to COVID-19, the event may be transitioned to take place digitally or may be postponed depending on the recommendations of the health minister.

For more details on the Festival and to find out when and where it will be taking place, visit Muskoka Chautauqua’s website.

August 22nd – A Tribute to the Tragically Hip
Where: Huntsville Fairgrounds in Huntsville, ON
When: Saturday, August 22nd at 7:00 PM
Cost: $40 per vehicle (1 driver & 1 passenger), $15 for each additional passenger

A tribute to Canada’s most beloved band arrives in Huntsville on August 22nd. This unique drive-in experience will play all the hits from Courage and Bobcaygeon to Little Bones and Wheat Kings. The band is led by local musician Sean Cotton and rounded out by some of Muskoka’s most talented local players. The show will be presented in classic drive-in form, with concert goers parking at the event and tuning in through your radio. Tickets are available by advance purchase, and COVID protocols will be strictly followed.

Find out more about A Tribute to the Tragically Hip, visit the Huntsville Festival of the Arts website.

August 30th – Customer Appreciation BBQ and Mini Golf Tournament
Where: Northern Escapades Mini Putt in Bracebridge, ON
When: Sunday, August 30th from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Cost: $5 per tournament player

Northern Escapades Mini Putt in Bracebridge will be holding a mini golf tournament on Sunday, August 30th. This is the perfect way to enjoy the end of the summer season, featuring a free BBQ from 12:00 to 4:00, prizes, family fun, and a full tournament. Get in on the tournament for just $5 and show off your mini golf skills!

Find out more about the event, visit the Northern Escapades Mini Putt website or Facebook page.