Preparing Your Home for Fall: A Guide for Energy Efficiency and Saving Money

By Vernon Trollinger, September 25, 2013, Energy Efficiency, Save Money

Preparing Your Home for FallSince this past Sunday was the first official day of fall, the changing leaves and shorter days mean that it’s time again to get your home ready in time for winter. While your family’s busy schedule might make some home improvement seem overwhelming, we’ve put together a list of 16 fall preparation tips (8 for outside, 8 for inside) that you can easily tackle over a single weekend that will save you money all winter long.

Fall Preparation Tips for Outside Your Home

1. Clean out your rain gutters — especially leaves and other debris. Put plastic gutter-guard over the gutters to lessen the chance for your gutters and downspouts from clogging in the future. Also keep an eye out for holes under the eaves in the soffiting where rodents can enter your attic.

2. If any tree limbs have over grown onto your roof or are brushing up against your home, have them trimmed back or removed. Not only can their branches damage your roof and siding, their leaves could deflect rain water onto the side of your home, which could cause damage and rot. There’s also the possibility of storm damage, too. Also trim back bushes from your foundation to leave one foot of air space so that they don’t trap moisture.

3. Check your windows for loose glazing. Re-glaze or seal them with silicon caulk to seal out cold, wet weather. Also be sure to repair or replace any broken panes, as these not only let in cold air, but are also a hazard to pets and children.

4. Check the weatherstripping on your windows and doors. Doors and windows should close snugly to keep cold air and moisture outside your home.

5. Look for signs of water damage or wood rot around your windows and doors. You can do this by pressing on window or door trim with your finger. Soft or spongy wood indicates a rot problem that should be repaired and replaced before winter weather returns.

6. Inspect your garage door. Make sure the door’s bottom gasket is intact and that the door has no rot. Also, install a vinyl garage threshold on the floor to create more effective seal with the door gasket. These kits are very simple to install and help keep out cold drafts and unwelcome rodents.

7. Inspect the mudsill/banding joist joint. Look for any holes or gaps. Seal them with expanding foam. For any hole larger than 1/4″, fill with expanding foam and cover with a piece of metal flashing against mice.

8. Cover only the top of your outside air conditioning unit (the fan area) to prevent ice and other debris from damaging the inside. Completely covering the until can trap moisture for a longer period of time and damage components.

Fall Preparation Tips for Inside Your Home

1. Test-fire your heating system. Make sure it runs and shuts off properly now. This way, not only will it be ready when you need it, but early fall is also a relative slow time for repair technicians. You may have a better chance of getting any repairs done more quickly and conveniently.

2. Change your HVAC air filter and do it again in three months. Clogged air filters inhibit air circulating through your home and increase your heating costs. Also remember to clean off all your return duct vents. Make sure none of these vents are blocked by furniture or carpeting.

3. Check over your heating system’s ductwork for loose or leaky joints. Be sure to plug any holes with caulk, aluminum duct tape, or ductwork mastick. Properly air-sealed duct work can lower your energy costs by up to 20%.

4. Install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats can be set to work with your schedule. Many newer versions can be monitored remotely by a web connection (or smartphone).

5. Clean off ceiling fan blades and change the fan spin direction. In the summer, ceiling fans pull cool air up along the walls and blow it down into the center of the room. By reversing the fan spin direction in winter, they pull warm air from the middle of the room and circulate it down along the walls. Also, a slower speed evenly circulates warm dry air and reduces the risk of mildew or mold growth on inadequately insulated walls.

6. Flush and refill your water heater. Flushing your water heater removes sediments from the bottom of your heater’s tank that can reduce its energy efficiency.

7. Gas-fired water heaters need air flow to heat efficiently. Clean around the base of your heater. Also, inspect the condition of its insulation jacket.

8. Install a water heater jacket if you don’t have one. Also remember to insulate the hot water pipes six to ten feet up and downstream from the heater.

For the most part, these little jobs are just visual inspections of parts of your home that don’t always receive your full attention. Others, of course, are more involved and will take a little bit of your time. So, before the fall weather arrives in earnest, choose a weekend to get these jobs done. Do 8 tasks inside on Saturday, and do the other 8 outside on Sunday. If you do find something specific that needs repairing, you’ll have time to get it taken care of now before winter turns it into
a bone-chilling chore.

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Comments (1)


  1. Definitely going to have to give these a try. My hubby and I have been trying to save as much money as possible, and it can be difficult when energy costs are so high. Thanks for sharing!