Written By Beth Kotz
Simple Fall Preparation
Like sand through the hourglass or leaves off the bough, the arrival of another fall season is a reason to reimagine the spaces we call home. Before cool weather keeps us indoors for good, use the bright, crisp afternoons of October (and November!) to make some smart repairs and autumn-appropriate DIY décor upgrades. Here’s just a short list of ideas to prep your place in anticipation of the upcoming cold-weather holidays.
Rake ‘Em Up
“Fall” means plenty of fallen leaves! Left unattended, leaves can kill your grass, clog your gutters, ruin your downspouts and create bigger, costlier problems down the road. While you’re raking up the surplus, inspect and prune hedges, bushes and trees. Loose, weak and rotting limbs are hazards waiting to happen when winter weather strikes. If you lack the time or inclination to take care of outdoor pruning yourself, then hire a lawn care service to tackle your foliage for you.
Winterize The Outdoors
Outdoor elements like sidewalks and driveways present challenges no matter the season, but fall and winter can be particularly dangerous due to colder temperatures resulting in snow, ice and sleet. Take a good look at areas like your driveway and any hard surfaces, and repair cracks and other signs of damage promptly. When it comes to your roof, you can eyeball the shingles and flashing, but hire a professional for serious assessments and repairs.
Create A Cozy Space
For comfort and practicality, now’s the time to switch out interior fabrics for heavier, more durable varieties. Not only will replacing your summery bed sheets with cotton flannels make for cozier sleeping arrangements, but it will also help you cut energy costs because you can set your thermostat a little lower. About 47 percent of energy costs come from heating and cooling alone. Use down comforters for added warmth, and swap out lighter curtains and drapes for darker, sturdier versions that can keep cold air outside where it belongs.
Invest In Quality Safety Equipment
Check key safety equipment, such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, to make sure they’re in good shape. Call your local gas company or a heating specialist to ensure that your fireplace is also working as it should, and replace any devices that need an upgrade. While you’re upgrading your equipment, consider swapping out your existing thermostat device. Using a smart thermostat, which sends energy use data to your smartphone, can help cut utility costs by 10% and deliver an energy credit on your tax return.
Close The Gaps
One of the least expensive ways to prep for cooler temperatures and save on energy costs is to check and fill gaps in your home. Common areas include the spaces where doors and windows close, where pipes or wires enter your home, and where siding meets masonry. If you notice cracks starting to appear, simply apply caulk and sealant as appropriate.
Along with sealing cracks between your window frames, check for holes and gaps in your home’s foundation, roof and walls. Small animals are more resourceful than you think and can easily fit through cracks, which can lead to infestations over time.
Brighten Up The Doorway
A cheery entryway is key to a warm welcome. Freshen up your front door by adding autumnal touches like pumpkins, gourds, hay bales and wreaths to your porch area. There are lots of ways to add a touch of personality to your front door, and you don’t need to add piles of pumpkins if that’s not your thing. Think outside the black-and-orange box with brightly colored pillows, fun textures, rustic décor or a monochromatic theme. Potted fall flowers, such as garden mums and pansies, can also add a pop of color to lift your spirits this season.
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Beth Kotz is a freelance writer and contributor for numerous home, technology, and personal finance blogs. She graduated with a BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, IL, where she continues to live. Find her on Twitter @HappyHomeownerB
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