It’s the time of year celebrated by poets; it’s neither hot nor cold. Leaves are starting to take on color, and a cool breeze is in the air. This is the perfect weather for doing indoor and outdoor home maintenance. Take advantage of the cooler weather to make sure your house will keep you warm, dry, and safe.
Check your thermal envelope
Few houses can’t be improved when it comes to keeping the weather out and the comfort in. Cold enters your home through the walls, roof, ceiling, attic, and basement. These combined elements are called the home’s “thermal envelope.”
You may not be ready to go all in with solar panels and wind turbines, but you can substantially improve your home’s energy use–and save money on utilities–by installing thermal vinyl siding. If your siding is already showing signs of wear, this is a no brainer. And thermal siding can be installed one wall at a time, if you’re pinching pennies.
Another relatively low-hanging fruit is spray foam insulation. Sprayed around pipes, in crawl spaces, and in basements and attics, insulation will save you substantial reductions in heat bills, especially if you do it yourself. Even the cost of hiring a professional will likely be repaid in utility savings over five years.
Some people are rightfully concerned about the fire risk of old spray foam, but recent improvements to this technology have made it much safer. Make sure you use a fire retardant foam.
Make time for cleaning
Although many people think that spring is the time for cleaning, making sure the outside of your home is nice and tidy before cold weather sets in is just as important. In addition to cleaning your gutters and generally picking up around the yard, you might need to spend some extra time inside your shed or garage. Garages, in particular, tend to accumulate dirt and grime over the summer, which can get even worse when you begin tracking dead leaves inside. However, before you grab your trusty vacuum or the same broom you use to sweep the driveway, consider getting a backpack vacuum, which can help you navigate the confines of your garage a lot easier than the alternatives. What’s more, the large capacity will pick up more than a standard vacuum and the longer cords mean you can move around freely without having to swap outlets every so often.
Maintain your appliances
Another great way to save money is to take time to maintain appliances. Clean or change the filters on air purifiers, window air conditioners, and gas furnaces. It’s a good idea to call an expert in to check and maintain your gas appliances. If you use compressed air to do this yourself, make sure you have done all the research on doing it safely.
While you are maintaining appliances, be sure to maintain your pipes as well. If they freeze, they may break. Obtain some heating tape or wrap a heating pad around any pipes in the basement, attic, or outside the house. If you suspect there will be a freeze, drip your faucets and open the cabinet doors under your kitchen sink to allow warmer air to penetrate that area. For more information on protecting your pipes (and on other fall maintenance projects), take a look at this checklist from Angie’s List.
You might be tempted to brick up your fireplace to save money on maintenance and energy, but be aware that it may hurt your home’s resale value. Gas hookup fireplaces, in particular, are a selling point for many home buyers, and wood-burning fireplaces also add value.
If you’re using your fireplace, you will need to clean your chimney at least once a year. Early autumn is a good time to do it because the weather is cool enough for working outside and still not cold enough that you need a fire.
While you’re at it, check to make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Fire is a serious hazard in the winter when the air is the driest.
If you own your own home, you will want to spend some time grilling or shooting hoops in your backyard or driveway. These are among the many joys of owning your own home. However, as any smart poet would say, live for today, but plan as if you will live to be 100.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.