There is more to fall than Halloween festivities and leaves falling. Now that summer is over, it’s time to prepare your home for the cold fall and winter months! By following these tips to maintain your home, you will save energy, prevent problems and unwanted costs, as well as help save the environment!
Examine Your Roof & Gutters. It’s best to inspect and clean the gutters a few times during the fall, especially if there are many leafy trees surrounding your home. Clear away leaves, dirt, and pine needles from your gutters. Align gutters and downspouts to direct water away from your home, as well as walkways and driveways, so that they do not become slippery or icy in the cold winters.
- Drain Your Hot Water Heater. If you live in an area with hard water, extra amounts of sediments could be building up in your tank. Fall is the perfect time to drain and make sure rust is not developing in your tank as well. If your hot water heater is extremely old or rusting, consider investing in a new one that will be more cost effective and energy efficient.
- Clean & Store Outdoor Furniture. Summer is over which means it’s time to wash outdoor furniture and cushions. Once dry, store cushions in a dry area to prevent cracking and fading over the fall and winter months. When spring comes along, you will be pleased that they’re ready for use!
- Check Out Your Chimney. Have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected before using your fireplace. It’s important to remove built up soot, nests, and other materials that could present a fire hazard. Repairing your chimney can prevent heat loss and keep your fireplace working as efficiently as possible.
- Check for Gaps. To test for gaps, insert a dollar bill in the gaps around your windows and doors. If the dollar bill goes in, then you know your money is going out the window due to energy loss. Easily fix the gaps by caulking or installing a variety of inexpensive door/window insulating strips or plastic sheeting.
- Clean Your refrigerator. Refrigerators use a lot of electricity, but by maintaining your refrigerator, you can reduce these energy costs. Vacuum the coils on the back of the fridge, and make sure the temperature is sufficient. The temperature shouldn’t be too cold to waste electricity, but cold enough to keep your food fresh.
Go Green with These Energy Saving Tips
- Turn Down Your Thermostat. Heating accounts for approximately 70% of a home's energy bill. The simple act of turning down your thermostat at night or while you are gone during the day will go a long way to reducing your energy bills. If you have trouble remembering to turn the temperature down, consider installing a programmable thermostat to do the work for you.
- Save On Your Water Bill. Using less water and on the cold setting will still clean your clothes as well as using warm or hot water, and you'll save money by not heating water to wash clothes. Costs are an average of 11¢ per load using warm water and 26¢ per load using hot water, which can add up in the long run!
Save even more by lowering your water heater temperature will still provide you with sufficient amounts of hot water. By reducing your water heater temperature you can decrease your energy costs. It’s estimated that for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit you lower the temperature setting, you can reduce your bill 3% to 5%.
- Check Outlets. Did you know you can lose heat through your electrical outlets, light switches and lighting fixtures? Consider installing foam gaskets behind these outlets and switches or install plastic security caps to reduce heat loss.
- Don’t Block Your Vents. Place your furniture and drapes so that all output vents and cold air return vents are free from obstruction. This will reduce heating load on your system.
- Compost in the Fall. Compost is a rich, organic soil conditioner for your lawn and garden. Put raked leaves and other yard wastes in a compost bin and keep these materials out of landfills. Don't forget to add any organic materials cleaned out of your gutters, too!
- Buy Recyclable Fall Items. When stocking up on cold-weather gear, buy recycled-content items such as fleece clothing and blankets made from recycled soda bottles and snow shovels made from recycled plastic. Buying recycled-content products encourages companies to make more items with recycled materials.
- Go Green in the Garage. Empty out unused fuel from any gas-powered equipment stores in the garage, such as a lawnmower, because sediment can build up and clog the fuel lines. If you have children, store gasoline in tanks out of their reach and have it ready for use on your winter gas-powered equipment like a snow blower or emergency generator.
- Let There Be Light. During the fall, open shades and blinds on sunny days to warm your home naturally and close them at night to prevent heat loss.
- Use Your Ceiling Fans. Ceiling fans aren’t just for summer. The truth is ceiling fans are helpful no matter what the season. Also, make sure to clean your ceiling fan blades and reverse fan flow to spin clockwise. This will push air up to the ceiling and then back down to create warmth, resulting in energy savings!