We've bid farewell to summer and there's a chill in the air that hints of the frosty days ahead. Now that autumn is here, it's time to prepare your home for the upcoming winter season. A few simple repairs and upgrades before the cold weather hits can score you big savings on your utility bills in the coming months.
1. Ensure efficient heating.
- Your HVAC filters generally need to be replaced every one to three months. A clogged and dirty filter will make your heating system work harder, costing you money and reducing air quality.
- This fall, consider having your heating system checked by an HVAC professional to verify that it is in good working condition. An autumn tuneup just might save you from expensive emergency repairs down the road.
2. Keep the cold air out.
- Drafty doors and windows can let in cold air and increase your winter heating bills (and make it more expensive to cool in the summer!). Check for drafts and caulk leaky windows. Add weather stripping to doors and close any gap at the door bottom with a new door sweep or a fabric draft stopper.
- Add insulated draperies over windows to keep out the chill. Another option is plastic insulating sheets in easy to install kits, readily available at hardware stores and online.
- Inspect and replace the insulation in your attic, garage and basement or crawlspace. Even new homes may be under-insulated, and older insulation may be deteriorated.
3. Turn down the heat.
Make it a habit to turn down the thermostat when you are away from home or warm and cozy in bed. Better yet, install a programmable thermostat that will automatically lower the temperature at times that you are at work or asleep. New models may even allow you to set your thermostat using your smartphone.
4. Keep your winter home cozy and comfortable.
- Reverse your ceiling fans to clockwise movement. We all know that a ceiling fan is great for cooling off in the warm weather months, but you may not be aware that it can help keep you comfortable this winter. Clockwise movement actually pushes warm air downward, a particularly good idea in areas of the home with high ceilings.
- Put throw rugs down on bare floors.
5. Plan ahead to avoid costly repairs.
- Get out that ladder and clean the gutters. Gutters clogged with leaves and other debris could lead to overflowing rainwater and potentially, damage to your roof or water problems in your basement.
- Avoid costly damages from burst pipes when the deep freeze strikes. Before the temperatures dip below freezing, winterize your pipes by draining and turning off outdoor faucets. Disconnect all hoses and store inside until spring.
6. Replace inefficient lighting.
- You'll be spending much more time indoors in the coming months. Start replacing your traditional incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. LED bulbs use 75% less energy and last approximately 10 to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
- The holidays are fast approaching; upgrade your festive outdoor light displays and save on your electric bill by replacing bulbs with efficient LED bulbs.
7. Know your savings options.
If utility costs have been a burden in past seasons, take action now to explore some potential payment options. Contact your utilities provider for information about budget plans and any available low income assistance.
8. Keep seasonal items in top shape.
Finally: think spring! Avoid costly replacements of seasonal items when the wonderful warm weather returns. Some TLC now will preserve the beauty and extend the life of your garden tools, patio furniture and other outdoor items.
- Furniture, grills and cushions should be covered or brought indoors.
- Clean caked-on dirt from your shovels, rakes and other gardening tools. Use steel wool to remove any rust. Sand any wooden handles, and lubricate with oil.
- Save those gorgeous summer plants for next season. Many tropical plants and ferns can overwinter indoors.