Although summer’s end is still a few weeks away, it’s not too early to begin thinking about preparing your home and tools for colder weather.
What things should you do outside and inside the house? What can you do to save energy when autumn’s chill arrives?
Tools and mowers
A few minutes of maintenance before storing lawn and garden equipment this fall will pay off next spring.
Jennifer Owens, who works at Jackson’s Greenhouse and Garden Center, 1922 N.W. Lower Silver Lake Road, said dirt on shovels and other hand tools should be washed off with water and the tools stored once they are completely dry.
Rubbing alcohol can be used to clean fungus from pruner blades, Owens said, and WD-40 can be sprayed on pruner hinges to keep them lubricated.
Before storing your lawnmower, run it until it’s out of gas, advises HGTV’s website, hgtv.com. As an alternative, add a fuel stabilizer to a full tank of gas, run the engine for a few minutes to let the stabilizer circulate, turn it off and add more gas to refill the tank.
HGTV also recommends disconnecting the lawnmower’s battery and spark plugs; removing its blade (sharpen or replace if needed); draining and changing the oil; cleaning the frame; and turning the mower onto its side and washing its underneath with water from a hose.
Use a tool, not your hands, to scrape off any remaining dirt or clippings on the mower. Once clean and dry, replace the spark plugs.
Outside the house
The “Fall Maintenance Guide” compiled by Angie’s List, media.angieslist.com, recommends homeowners do the following outdoor tasks before cool weather arrives:
n Walk around your home and look for cracks in the foundation. Repair the cracks to prevent moisture problems and further structural damage.
n Have your garage door inspected to make sure moving parts are lubricated, safety sensors are in good shape and all other parts are working properly.
n Repair your wooden deck before colder weather hits. Stain or reseal, if needed.
n Clean leaves and other debris from gutters to prevent water from pooling around the foundation of your home or causing interior water damage.
n Remove garden hoses from faucets, drain and then store in a garage or shed.
n To prevent freezing, wrap outdoor spigots with insulation.
Inside the house
Did you know lowering your thermostat a few degrees at night during the fall and winter can reap big energy savings?
Topeka-based Westar Energy indicates homeowners should lower their thermostats “to the lowest comfortable temperature.”
“Lower it 8 degrees or more at night for maximum efficiency,” the company’s website notes. “You could lower your energy costs by 1 percent for each degree you lower your setting (for at least 8 hours).”
Other energy-saving tips for fall and winter listed on the Westar Energy website, westarenergy.com/energy-saving-tips, include:
n Clean or replace furnace filters once a month, or as needed. Dirty filters block warm air coming from the blower and your furnace will operate less efficiently.
n Insulate or increase the amount of insulation in your attic, outside walls and basement.
n If your water heater is older, wrap it with an insulation jacket.
n Stop drafts by caulking all exterior doors and window frames, and weather-stripping all exterior doors and windows. Install foam gaskets around wall outlets, too.
n Keep shades and curtains open to allow sunlight in during the day. Close them at night.
n Close the fireplace damper when it’s not in use.
n Don’t block air registers with furniture, drapes or other objects.
n Electric blankets use very little electricity and allow you to comfortably lower your thermostat at night.