Prep your home for cooler weather with these tasks to do in an hour, over a weekend, and during the month
From the first days, which probably still feel like summer, to the last, when you may notice that first chill in the air, October is a time of transition. Get your home ready for the season ahead by ticking off these to-dos, from adding cozy layers to scheduling necessary maintenance — and then curl up in your favorite chair and savor the comforts of home.
Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less
1. Cozy up with warm layers. Have you felt that first nip in the air yet? When you do, think about swapping out lighter-weight bedding for flannel sheets and fluffy duvets. Bring added warmth to the other rooms in your house with throws and pillows in rich fabrics like wool, velvet, or faux fur. Thicker area rugs and curtains not only feel cozier, but they also can actually help your home feel warmer — and cut down on your energy bills.
2. Order firewood. Whether you use a wood stove for actual warmth or just for coziness, now is a good time to order a delivery of firewood. If you can help it, don’t store large quantities of wood directly against the house, which can encourage pests, but do keep it protected from rain and snow beneath a shelter.
3. Check safety devices. Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; replace batteries as needed. Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace it if needed.
4. Set up or improve kids’ schoolwork area. Give children an area to do their schoolwork that is comfortable, attractive, and well-organized. Ideally, make a large surface available for spreading out big or messy projects. The dining table can work, but if you have the room, consider adding a dedicated project table or large desk surface and keep the necessary supplies at hand.
Tackle These Tasks Over a Weekend
5. Clean leather furniture. It’s important to know whether your leather furniture has a finish before treating it with any products, so check labels or look up the item on the retailer’s or manufacturer’s website before you begin.
For unprotected leather (also called aniline), less is more when it comes to cleaning: Wipe with a clean, dry cloth or one slightly dampened with distilled water.
For protected leather (also called semi-aniline or pigmented), you can make your own cleaning solution by adding a few drops of mild non-detergent soap to distilled water or using a commercial leather cleaning product. Apply with a microfiber cloth.
6. Remove window AC units. If you use window air-conditioning units, now is the time to either remove them or cover them outside with protective insulation. Removing the units is the better option because this will allow you to close the windows, minimizing winter heat loss. If you choose to leave them in over the winter, be sure to pick up insulating covers made for this purpose and securely attach them outside.
7. Add weatherstripping. Newer double-pane windows may not need weatherstripping, but it will help most older windows retain heat and stop drafts. Check areas with previously applied weatherstripping and remove or replace as needed.
8. Freshen up your fall wardrobe. If you’ve bought new clothes recently, take this opportunity to sort through the rest of your wardrobe and remove pieces you no longer wear. Collect clothes that need repair and move summer clothes to an out-of-the-way spot so that your fall wardrobe can be front and center. Polish shoes, remove pilling from coats and sweaters and clean out handbags and totes.
9. Inspect the roof and gutters. It’s generally fine to wait until most of the leaves have fallen in autumn to clean out the gutters and downspouts, but giving these areas a quick visual inspection now is a good idea. Pull out any sticks or other debris blocking the gutters, and make note of any worn-out seals around vent pipes and chimneys. If you do not feel comfortable on a ladder or have a home of two or more stories, hire someone to do a quick inspection for you. Schedule any needed repairs now so that your home will be buttoned up for winter.
Maintenance and Extras to Budget for This Month
10. Schedule chimney and furnace maintenance. Make sure your fireplace and heating system are clean, safe, and ready to go by having a pro look at them now. Having your chimney cleaned will also ensure that you don’t try to start a fire when an animal family (or an old nest) is inside. And if you don’t have a chimney cap yet, speak with your chimney sweep about adding one. The metal cap with screened sides can prevent critters from getting in and helps protect your roof from burning embers.
11. Maintain the washer and dryer. Cleaning out the dryer vents can be a job you do yourself, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing so (or if you’ve been putting it off), you may want to hire a pro to do washer and dryer maintenance for you. Washing machine hoses need to be replaced from time to time, and a cracked hose can cause a leak — which can mean costly damage to your home. Clean dryer vents and hoses will help your machine work more efficiently and reduce the risk of fire.
12. Consider beefing up insulation. Looking for a way to save on your energy bills this winter? You may want to think about adding insulation to your attic space or inside walls. This can make a big difference in how well your home retains heat in winter and stays cool in summer.