With fall quickly upon us, now is the time to focus on a few simple home maintenance projects to prepare for the changing weather ahead. The good news is that many of these are low- or no-cost DIY projects that can also help you save money on your energy bills. Most importantly, they help protect your home investment.
Here are a few projects to check off your to-do list in the next couple of months:
Mind the Gaps
Heated air can escape from gaps that develop where building materials meet. Inspect areas where building materials may have pulled apart and caulk or seal any gaps that have formed. Check places where exterior siding meets windows and doors, around roof and foundation lines, around chimneys and where pipes protrude through walls or roofs.
Insulate Escape Routes
Heat rises, which mean heat from your home also can escape through any vulnerable areas of the roof. The most efficient way to stop that heat loss is by installing ceiling and roof insulation with an R-value of approximately 38. The R-value refers to the ability of any material to resist the passage of heat. For example, a fiberglass bat or blanket 9 ½ to 10 inches thick has an R-value of approximately 30. You can raise that number to 38 simply by adding two or three more inches of fiberglass.
Weather Strip Your Windows
Ensure that your storm windows and doors are effectively keeping warm air in and cold air out. Look for any cracks around glass, sashes and window frames. Apply adhesive foam weather strips to the top and bottom window rails or nail felt weather stripping where window sashes and frames make contact. If you live in a home built in the last 15 years or so, you likely have double or triple-paned windows and low-emissivity (Low-E) glass. Both these products increase your energy efficiency and can lower your energy bills.
Give Your Gutters Some Love
Gutters and downspouts are easy traps for leaves and pine needles, and squirrels often use them to store food. Be sure to clean gutters thoroughly, and pay special attention to elbows and bends in the downspouts. Keep hangers fastened securely and plug any holes and cracks. Touch up any sections showing signs of rust with rustproof paint.
Inspect Your Heating Unit
Consider replacing an older or inefficient heating unit with a gas or oil furnace or a heat pump with a high efficiency rating. If your system already is efficient, be sure to inspect and clean it regularly. Be sure that filters are clean and that you change them monthly. A timer model thermostat that can turn the heat down while you sleep or when no one is at home also can help you save money.
Performing routine home maintenance is essential and well worth the time and effort to keep energy bills low, protect your investment, keep your family safe and prolong the life of your home.
For more tips on home maintenance, go to www.nahb.org/forconsumers.