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Real Estate & Home

Twelve tips to prepare your home for autumn

10/18/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

SUMMIT COUNTY — Now that students are back to school and the temperature is cooler, it is the perfect opportunity for consumers to prepare their yards and homes for the winter months, according to the Summit County Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA).

Basic fall preparations may result in long-term savings, according to OCA officials. Maintaining a heating system can prolong its life and allow it to work more economically, while caring for a lawn prevents costly yard work or tree removal in the spring.

The OCA provides the following tips:

Inside the home

• Before the temperature dips too low, have a routine inspection of your furnace to make sure that it is running efficiently. Clean or replace your furnace filter and make sure to do so frequently during the heating season. When your heating system kicks in, set the thermostat at 68 degrees F when home and lower when you are sleeping or not at home; every degree you lower the thermostat can save 2 percent off your heating bill.

• Caulk your windows and doors and add weatherstripping, if needed. Use the locks on your windows to make them tighter and draft resistant. Insulate your attic, basement and outside walls and cover window or wall air conditioners. Be sure to close the fireplace damper when not in use. Reducing air leaks cuts approximately 10 percent from your energy bill.

• Turn the temperature of your water heater down to 120 degrees F and install water-flow restrictors in showers and faucets to reduce water and energy use. Lowering the temperature of your hot water tank can save 3 percent to 5 percent on energy costs.

• Run your ceiling fans in reverse; the hot air pooling at the top of the ceiling will be forced down. This will help equalize the temperature of the entire room, saving you energy costs.

• Check or replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide (CO) detectors, or if you have no detectors, install them now. Fall and winter use of fireplaces and furnaces increases your risk of possible fire and CO exposure.

• Set out shoe mats and area rugs to protect floors and prevent slipping due to moisture from wet footwear.

Outside the house

• Disconnect garden hoses and drain outdoor pipes to prevent damage during the winter. Shut off the water to the outdoor faucets. Otherwise, ice may form and pressure will build up in the water lines inside your home, resulting in a water line leak or break. This can cause severe damage to the home.

• If you store your lawn mower in the garage, fill the tank (to prevent condensation) and add fuel stabilizer to prevent gasoline from breaking down. Taking care of your yard equipment in the fall assures that it will be ready to go when spring returns.

• If you have a fireplace, get your chimney inspected for creosote buildup, cracks or critters. An inspection may help you avoid a chimney fire, the No. 1 cause of winter house fires.

• Rake the leaves before the snow falls and fertilize your lawn. Unraked leaves may result in dead patches in the spring.

• Inspect your roof and clean out the gutters and downspouts to prevent leaks and water backup that could result in spring repairs.

• Prepare for winter by tuning up the snow blower, getting shovels ready and having de-icers on hand for drives and walkways.

For more tips, visit the OCA website at www.co.summit.oh.us/conaffairs.htm, or to check a complaint history before hiring a contractor, call the OCA at 330-643-2879.

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