Fall means vibrant red, orange, and yellow foliage, lots of pumpkins, and refreshingly cool temps. But, it also means winter isn't far away. Here are a few projects—from looking after your exterior to maintaining your heating system—that can help your home brace for the cold and save you some cash.
When crossing your muddy yard to fetch the daily paper turns into an obstacle course of slips and slides, perhaps it's time to think about an alternative path—literally. Holiday guests to come would also appreciate safe passage to your door. So, take a weekend to lay a brick walkway.
- Make sure you check sidewalks and driveways for cracks. If you don't fill them now, water can seep in and freeze, making them even larger. Take the time to resurface worn concrete now and save you a whole lot of time and money later.
- Less daylight calls for illumination. You can also enhance the nighttime curb appeal of your home, while adding a measure of safety and security, by installing low-voltage landscape lighting. These exterior-grade fixtures are typically placed along walkways and driveways, but they're also ideal for illuminating steps, trees, stonewalls, fences and other prominent garden features.
- If you've never been stuck with the task of taking out trash after dinner clean-up, then lucky you. But, in the fall and winter, the last haul often goes out after-dark. Install a motion-sensor garage floodlight to keep you company. It'll also welcome you and your guests home with its warm illumination.
- Speaking of garages, now's a good time to tidy up the place. For most, the garage sees a lot of action during the summer with yard tools and pool accessories moving in and out. It might be handy to actually get the car in there now that winter weather is on the way. Create a garage storage plan and build a work bench to stow tools.
- Unfortunately, a door's weather seals, if it has any at all, can rip, compress, bend, or wear out over time, leaving chilly winter air free to enter (or expensive air-conditioned air to leave). Lucky for you, making your door draft-free is a straightforward exercise, far cheaper and faster than installing a new door. Once that's done, enhance curb appeal with aesthetic entry upgrades like adding exterior trim, flanking the door with sconces, throwing down a doormat, and swapping entry locksets.
- Fall means back-to-school. Create a stopping area just inside the entry where everyone can leave the weather and dirt from their day behind. Build or buy a mudroom bench that's the perfect catchall, complete with an open top shelf, coat hooks, and flip-top bench storage.
- Even after you've weatherstripped and caulked them, windows in older homes can still be drafty. Here's another line of defense against the chills: window treatments. The right shades, curtains, and even blinds will help retain some portion of the estimated 10 to 30 percent of heat lost through windows in wintertime. Install window shades and you'll also gain control of natural light.
- Before the chill sets in, make an appointment for your furnace's annual checkup. Without this yearly cleaning and inspection, a system can wear itself out quickly, pump deadly carbon monoxide into your home, or simply stop working. If you have forced-air heating, change the furnace filter. You'll notice a difference in the air quality, and your furnace will run more efficiently.