Leaves are falling. Temperatures are dropping. Football season has kicked off. Pumpkin spiced lattes are being served. It’s officially fall. Time for tailgating, fall holiday parties, toasting marshmallows around the fire pit.
Fall is also one of the best times to tackle minor home repairs and room refreshes that will get your home ready for the chilling winter months. Quick and simple improvements - like changing your ceiling fan direction - can make your home more energy efficient and more comfortable. Follow these important tips and check them off of your autumn to-do list so you’re well-prepared.
Schedule a home energy audit
A professional energy audit provides the most complete picture of your home's energy use. An auditor can assess efficiency—where your home is losing energy—room-by-room, with a list of recommended improvements, like upgrading to Energy Star appliances, adding insulation to the attic, or new weatherstripping around doors and windows.
Ceiling fans can also create efficiency and comfort in fall—they weren’t just made for summertime. On warm September days when you don’t need your AC, open a window and let the fan produce the perfect breeze. And when it’s time to turn on the heat, switch your ceiling fan direction to recirculate warm air trapped near your ceiling, making your space warm and cozy.
It’s smart to have an energy consultation in fall before freezing temperatures wreak havoc on your house. Don’t assume that just because your home is new—or recently constructed—that it’s 100% energy efficient. Energy-saving technology has quickly outpaced training that’s typically available to builders.
Conduct your own DIY home energy audit with a simple walk-through and checklist to identify many common issues. It’s also wise to check for any needed exterior home repairs. Look for signs of damage, starting with the roof, and working your way down, to the siding, the windows and doors, all the way down to the foundation. If you do find any issues, schedule repairs ASAP.
Inspect your roof from top to bottom
A leaky roof can become your worst nightmare. Finding the source of the leak can be time-consuming, but if you don’t stop the problem now, ice and wind can turn a small leak into winter disaster.
• Check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage.
• Look for damage to metal flashing around vents and chimneys.
• Scan for curled or damaged shingles in need of repair, or missing shingles in need of replacement.
• Look in your gutters for shingle granules, roofs tend to lose more granules toward the end of their life cycle—it might be time for a new one.
Check for air leaks inside and outside
Air leaks around windows and doors can account for a 10 to 20 percent increase in your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Make finding and fixing noticeable air leaks a first priority. Weather-stripping around doors and windows can prevent drafts—it’s the easiest and most cost-effective way to dampen heating costs. Remember to inspect it periodically because it can deteriorate over time. Also check for gaps along the baseboards or edges of the flooring and where walls and ceilings meet. Seal air leaks with interior caulk: It’s quick to install and easy to paint.
Search for leaks on the outside of your home, specifically in areas where two different building materials meet. Check around windows and doors, spaces surrounding switches and electrical outlets, next to lighting and plumbing fixtures. Also look for missing or damaged caulk. Seal any gaps with a durable weather-resistant exterior caulk. Thoroughly inspect your home for cracks and holes in the mortar and foundation and repair with the appropriate materials.
Tiny gaps are an open invitation to every small creature. With colder weather looming, mice and other rodents will be looking for warm places to make a home. They only need a slight gap to sneak into your house and raid your pantry. Seal the gaps before they get the party get started.
Keep walkways and landscaping clean
Fallen leaves are a beautiful reminder that a new season has arrived, but leaving too many on your lawn over the winter covered with snow can inhibit healthy lawn growth in springtime. Throw on a pair of gloves, grab a rake, and use a set of handheld “leaf scoops” to bag up your leaves in a flash.
Make navigating around your home safer for winter. When walkways and landscapes are blanketed in ice and snow, getting from the driveway to the front door can be more than slippery. Check all stairs and steps to ensure they’re sturdy and that railings are in good shape. A driveway that’s in good repair always makes for smoother shoveling.
Schedule an HVAC inspection
Fall is the perfect time to prep your HVAC system with a scheduled maintenance checkup. HVAC technicians can thoroughly inspect your furnace and make any necessary adjustments to ensure your system is operating safely at max efficiency.
Always keep your air filters clean. Dirty furnace and air conditioning filters can prevent your system from heating your home adequately and running efficiently. Regularly continue to change filters throughout the colder winter months so your system performs at its peak.