Chillier days will soon come knocking, and the cold will serve as a grim reminder that summer days are long gone. As the air gets crisper outside, there are a few things you can do inside to keep the cold at bay and enjoy your indoor exile for the next three months.
Seal Doors and Windows
Poorly insulated points of egress can cost you money as your HVAC works overtime to compensate for the cooler indoor air. Take a few hours to inspect and insulate your windows and doors when the first cold snap arrives. To check for air leaks, stand next to each window and door with a candle. If it gets blown out, you have a problem. Recaulk windows with a paintable product and use an appropriately sized weather stripping around doors. The DIY Network offers some great tips on how to properly caulk and reglaze old, drafty windows here.
Change Batteries in Remotes, Smoke Detectors, Etc.
Although new technology means portable power supplies can last longer than ever, it’s still a good idea to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Do this twice each year — once in the spring and again at the onset of winter. While you’re at it, change the batteries in the television, garage door, and other remotes that you’ll likely keep close-at-hand.
Insulate Pipes in Areas Where Heating Is Not Controlled
How often do you think about your crawl space, attic, and exterior-access storage? Probably not often, but you should. Your home may stay a constant temperature; however, these areas weren’t built with comfort in mind. Many contain exposed pipes, which can freeze when temperatures drop below a certain point. Consider wrapping exposed pipes in specially designed foam insulation, leaving interior cabinet doors open on the coldest nights, and allowing faucets to run a slow stream of water when cooler temperatures arrive.
Replace the Air Filter
All summer long, your HVAC system’s filter has collected and trapped pollen, dirt, and even tiny insects so you didn’t breathe them in. It’s time to change the filter so that it continues to work once the heat is on. Be careful to use the right size filter (knowing the difference between nominal and actual sizes helps a lot), and invest a few extra dollars in one that has a high MERV rating; the higher the number, the more particles it collects. It’s also important to change the filter every 30 to 90 days.
Deep Clean Everything
Don’t put off annoying chores until spring cleaning time. You don’t really want to walk past that spare bedroom full of discarded everything until warm weather, when you’re no longer stuck in the house. You will feel better about your home if you spend a weekend decluttering, cleaning, and controlling messes now. Have the carpets and upholstered furniture professionally cleaned, toss mismatched socks, donate clothing you haven’t worn in more than a year, and scrub and seal grout in the kitchen and bath. This is also a great time to start weeding through broken and unloved toys before St. Nick’s annual appearance. In the kitchen, clear cabinets of utensils and containers you don’t use and add a few risers under the sink to keep your pots and pans in place. Check out House Beautiful’s list of kitchen organization hacks for more inspiration.
Get Your Emergency Kit Together
Even if you live in warmer climates, storms are no joke. Downed power lines and toppled trees can make it tough for emergency services and utilities to get things back up and running again. Days-long power outages are a real threat in many parts of the country. Aside from batteries, blankets, and candles, the CDC offers an extensive list of things you can do and items to keep on hand if you’re stuck without power — even during the warmer months.
While there are dozens of tasks that you can do in addition to the above, this is a good start that will improve your safety (and sanity) during the colder part of the year.
Paul Denikin got into DIY home repair projects after his daughter was born with special needs. He created DadKnowsDIY.com to share some of the great resources he’s come across and to offer home improvement project how-tos and other accessibility information.