50 Must-Do Things to Get Your Home Ready for Fall
We get it. You would rather be enjoying the waning days of summer than doing fall chores, but tackling these now, means you can enjoy the splendor of fall guilt-free.
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The days are shorter when fall rolls around, which means you'll be turning on your lights earlier—and using more energy overall. "The average home has 40 electrical sockets, so lighting can be a big energy hog," says Lauren Urbanek, Senior Energy Policy Advocate, Climate and Clean Energy Program, Natural Resources Defense Council. "LED light bulbs use four times less energy than a less efficient bulb and last 10 to 25 times longer, all while providing a great quality of light." These 12 other tricks will also help you slash your energy bill.
Buy a programmable thermostat
How many times have you rushed out in the morning without turning down your thermostat? Or maybe you remembered to turn it down while you're away but always come home to a freezing house? Fall is a good time to invest in a programmable thermostat so you're not paying to heat an empty home. Urbanek says they may cost around $100, but some utility company's offer rebates and it could pay for itself in a year or less. "You can save around $180 a year if used properly, adjusting temperatures while away from home and overnight," says Urbanek.
Mind the gaps
"Check your windows and doors. If you add up all the gaps around the windows and doors in an average American house, you may have the equivalent of a 3-foot by 3-foot hole in the wall!" says Urbanek. Caulk around doors and windows. Use a door sweep to help seal the gap and prevent chilly drafts that sneak in under the door. These are just a few of the super easy ways to save money on your energy bills this winter.
Open the blinds
In the summer, you're more likely to keep the blinds and curtains shut to keep out the heat; in the fall, it's time to do the opposite. During the day, open up drapes and blinds on sunlit windows to help boost temperatures via the sun's ray. Once the sun goes down or if it's a dreary and windy day, retain cozy temperatures by drawing the blinds and curtains. When curtains are hung close to the window, they can prevent as much as 25 percent heat loss, Urbanek says. Thermal blinds that keep the heat in are a smart idea, too.
Buy an electric blanket
You can turn down the thermostat at night and pocket the extra cash saved by sleeping under a heated blanket. "Today's models are safe and when you're toasty under one, you can lower your thermostat even more at night," says Dean Bennett, president of Dean Bennett Design and Construction, Inc. "The cumulative electric bill savings for the months of October through March can amount from 25 to 35 percent for a family of three to four."
Flip the switch on your ceiling fan
You'll feel toasty warm when you flip the switch on your ceiling fan to spin clockwise so the warm air—which usually heads to the ceiling, is pushed back down where you need it in the chilly months. To reap the full benefits, place the fan on a low setting, and adjust your thermostat to save energy and money on heating costs.
Schedule an energy audit
Check with your local utility provider and schedule an energy audit. Many utility companies offer rebates or extra goodies like free LED bulbs with the audit. "Using tools like a thermal camera, the energy auditor will be able to tell you where you could use more insulation, or where there are cracks and gaps where heated air will escape in the winter. Most homes can benefit from adding insulation in the attic or walls, which will reduce energy bills and make your home much more comfortable," says Urbanek.
Round up dust bunnies
It's probably the last place you think about dusting but, but poorly maintained furnace burners can lead to clogs, which can cause carbon monoxide build-up in your home. "To remove the debris, it's best to vacuum around the burner and in any cavities that surround it. This is also a good time to check the system for functionality with regards to cycling power on and off," says Rusty Cochran, president of We Care Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Solar. If checking the furnace makes you nervous, call a pro.
Don't leave us in the cold
Freezing temperatures will render home improvement supplies such as paint, adhesives, and caulking useless. Temperatures of 32 degrees or below freeze water and latex paint (which is water-based), while oil-based paints will freeze at a lower temperature. Store these products that can freeze inside. On the other hand, you won't regret storing these 10 items in a cool place.
Test carbon monoxide detectors
Carbon monoxide is odorless and kills without warning, so it's vital to test all your home's carbon monoxide (CO) detectors—and smoke detectors while you're at it. "CO detectors don't require hard-wiring and their batteries can last up to ten years," says Cochran. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends placing a battery-operated or a battery back-up CO detector near every bedroom in your home.