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5 Fall Projects to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Fall Projects for the Texas Cooling Season

The change in weather from summer to fall is time to do those home improvement projects you put off for the last few months because of the blazing heat. It's also a good time to begin preparing your home for the cooler season to come so you can even save you money on your heating costs.

Here are five autumn projects to prepare your home for the winter:

1) Seal Leaks

Air leakage can account for up to 40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling a home. Luckily, sealing these leaks can be a fairly easy do-it-yourself project!

  1. Insulate your windows to fill in the leaks.
  2. Use exterior caulk to fill in any gaps around doors and windows. To close any gaps from the inside, use an interior caulk which comes in strips. Just measure the length and width of the side of the door to see how much material you need.

2) Insulate Your Hot Water Heater

One item that increases your gas or electricity bill during the cooler months is your hot water heater. A good way to lower your usage is to apply a water heater blanket to make your water stays hotter longer. Look for models that have an insulating value of at least R-8. Note: this method will not help if your water heater tank has a high R-value of insulation (R-24 for example). If you cannot tell what your tank is ranked, if it's warm to the touch, then it needs a blanket.

3) Insulate the Attic

This step works for both summer and winter months. Remember - each house varies on the amount of insulation needed to see savings. Many older homes, for example, have less insulation than the homes built today. So they may see greater savings with a fresh batch of insulation compared to a newer built home.

4) Trim Trees and Bushes

In addition to promoting plant health and growth, trimming trees is necessary to remove any broken or dead limbs. This is important because they can break off and cause damage during a winter storm. We recommend the following batch of tools for your DIY efforts:

  1. Hand-pruner - This garden tool can be used for cutting bushes, hedges, stems, ornamental trees, and more. Itshould only be used for cutting wood less than one inch in diameter.
  2. Pruning-saw - This tool can cut branches over three inches in diameter.
  3. Lopper - This is meant for trimming branches too thick for a hand pruner and too thin for a hand saw.

Some words of wisdom: if this seems to be too much of a project for you, call a professional. It is much easier and cheaper to do that than to end up in the hospital.

5) Prevent Pipes from Freezing

You can wrap your pipes fairly inexpensively, and it doesn't require much work. Just measure the pipe length, purchase pipe insulation (foam tubes that fit around each pipe) and wrap them around your pipes. This will help keep your pipes warm and will make them less likely to freeze.

If you'd like to take it a step further, for pipes that run along the exterior walls, you can install fiberglass insulation between the exterior wall of your home and exposed pipes to add additional protection from the cold. An easier alternative to fiberglass insulation is to wrap pipes that run along exterior walls with electrical heating tape. (Warning - because using heat tape is essentially wrapping an electrical wire around your water pipes, it is very important to read the directions and warnings to make sure it is installed properly). This is a good way to keep your pipes from freezing because it is controlled by a thermostat that turns on or off to maintain the heat around the pipes.

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