When stores start selling Halloween candy — a full two months before the haunted day — it’s a good reminder to start thinking about how to prepare your home for the upcoming change of seasons.
It may seem too early to focus on fall maintenance projects, but preparing for the chilly weather now will enhance and protect one of your biggest investments: your home. The best part is that many of these projects can be done at little or no cost, and they can help you save money on your energy bills.
Here are five projects to tackle before the leaves start to fall:
Caulk the Gaps Around Your Home
Heated air can escape from gaps that develop where building materials meet. Some of the most common areas include where exterior siding meets windows and doors, around roof and foundation lines, around chimneys and where pipes protrude through walls or roofs. Check those locations to see if any gaps have formed and if so, apply the appropriate caulk or sealant.
Check Ceiling and Roof Insulation
Heat rises, which means heat from your home also can escape through any vulnerable areas of the roof. The most efficient way to stop that heat loss is by installing ceiling and roof insulation with an R-value between 38 and 60. The R-value refers to the ability of any material to resist the passage of heat.
Weatherproof Your Windows and Doors
Ensure that your storm windows and doors are effectively keeping warm air in and cold air out. Look for any cracks around glass, sashes and window frames. Apply adhesive foam weather strips to the top and bottom window rails, or nail felt weatherstripping where window sashes and frames make contact. Newer homes are much more likely to have double or triple-paned windows, which can dramatically improve energy efficiency.
Keep a Close Eye on the Gutters
Gutters and downspouts can easy become clogged over time, even if they have guards intended to keep out debris. Regularly inspect and clean gutters thoroughly, paying special attention to elbows and bends in the downspouts. Keep hangers fastened securely and plug any holes or cracks. You can also touch up any sections showing signs of rust with rustproof paint.
Augment Your Heating Unit
Consider replacing an older or inefficient heating unit with a gas or oil furnace, or a heat pump with a high efficiency rating. If your system already is efficient, be sure to inspect it regularly and change filters monthly. Consider investing in a smart thermostat that can help save you money by automatically adjusting temperatures at times while you are sleeping or when no one is home.
Performing routine home maintenance projects like these can have an immediate impact on lowering your energy bills and maintaining the safety of your family. They also offer the long-term benefits of prolonging the life of your home and enhancing its value.