Today is the first day of fall, which means we will soon be spending increasingly more time indoors. Get outside and pick some apples or walk through the park while you can, because winter is coming. It’s important to make sure your home is just as prepared for the cold weather as you are.

Source: D. Sharon Pruitt

Here are a few ways to prep the house for fall:

Check your heat

For about $80 to $100, a technician will inspect your furnace or heat pump to make sure the system is clean and in good condition so that it can achieve its efficiency standards. The earlier the better…you do NOT want to wait until winter to find out if your heat isn’t working. The inspection also measures carbon-monoxide leakage. Look for a heating and air-conditioning contractor that belongs to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America .

Buy a programmable thermostat

Many homes today already have this option, so if you already have one, be sure to check the settings. The initial investment of $50 to $100, you will save you well over that annually on energy bills if keep the thermostat set to no higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re at home and awake and no more than 62 degrees when you’re away or asleep. Energy Star–qualified models are your best bet because they come with preprogrammed settings. You could also consider home automation for added convenience. While you’re at it, check the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors.

Seal all cracks and holes

Check windows, doors and the perimeter for cracks or holes that will cause leaks. Fill any found holes around windows and doors with caulk. If the gap is bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk. Check window glazing putty, too (which seals glass into the window frame). Add weather-stripping as needed around doors, making sure you seal any cracks from inside your home. For extra insulation, consider installing cellular shades. These shades are another product that’s going to cut your energy bills down. The larger the cell, the more insulation they provide.

Get the Fireplace Ready

If you have a working fireplace, cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds. You should consider calling a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote if it hasn’t been cleaned in a while. Be sure to inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing and check the mortar between bricks and tuck-point if necessary.

Prevent Mold Growth

The biggest areas susceptible to mold are any areas prone to humidity and stuffiness. Bathrooms, basements and crawl spaces can be hotspots for mold growth.  Make sure exhaust fans in bathrooms are working properly and being utilized if the room gets humid, such as after a shower.  Ever smell that mildew smell in your basement? Mold and mildew can increase the risk of illnesses.  Consider placing dehumidifiers in crawlspaces or basements.

 

Design tip: Consider switching up the art work in your home or change a few accessories. It can be a simple switch, such as new throw pillows or a different scented candle. You’re going to be spending more and more time inside as it begins to get colder. It can be refreshing to change your scenery inside. Select four to eight simple black frames and you can change the photos with each season. It’s like having a small personal art gallery in your home.

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