Frugal Fall – Preparing Your Home for Cooler Weather

Fall is slowly descending here in Texas. Obviously, October in Texas is not what it might be in New York, Colorado or elsewhere. The days range between sixty five and eighty something, with the nights falling into the fifties.  For me, it means that the heating/air conditioning can be turned off, and windows opened. However, we do get some winter in Texas. It’s later and much less brutal than other parts of the country, but it does appear.

To that end, I’ve begun making small, frugal preparations to get us ready for cooler weather.I was never susie home maker, even in the best of times.  I love being at home, but I don’t love cleaning and maintaining that home per se.  Unfortunately, maintenance and repairs have to be done in order to keep my home efficient and looking the way I like it.  To that end, I begin with a checklist each season.  I have a small checklist of routine maintenance that must be done.   A few of these items have a minimal cost, but pay me back in efficiency. You may have a similar list, or one that is less complicated.

When it comes to the outside, much of the common wisdom doesn’t apply.  We don’t turn off our sprinklers or drain our spigots here. Our patio furniture stays out on the patio year around (it’s not the folding kind) and I don’t even bother to cover it. I don’t have to cover my air conditioner. Screens stay on year around and then are inspected and cleaned in the spring.  I will inspect all the windows and doors.  I’ll also have my son climb up and look at the gutters (we had them cleaned early spring).  I’d like to clean the windows, but it’s not a must. I’d also like to get my chimney checked.  Painting can be either here or there, depending on the mood. We only get snow or ice a couple times a year if at all.  When we get an ice storm, it’s a doozy, so I need to be sure that we have at least a little salt or chemicals (after all, Dallas doesn’t even own a snowplow).

In terms of fall yard preparation, we put a really good load of mulch down everywhere.  We’re re landscaping some of the back yard. Since our first freeze will not come until Thanksgiving, we continue to till the backyard and fertilize at a slow pace, along with traditional lawn maintenance such as hedge trimming. In the spring we’ll plant low water plants.  Meanwhile, pots and the front walk will be planted with pansies and cool weather blooms.

Inside, we need to give the heating system our annual check. Its a small expense to be sure everything is working fine. I need to buy six month’s worth of air filters. I’d be curious how often folks in warmer climes have their chimney checked-ours has not been done in the four years we’ve been here.  I’m unsure how long before we moved that someone checked it.  We also need a lesson, or at least help with our fireplace.  It will not light (it’s not a gas issue, it’s a getting it to light issue). Last year it lit for Christmas and then not since. We need to put new batteries in all detectors (we have smoke and carbon detectors hardwired into our security system but we also have others)

As for the inside of the house, I traditionally “spring clean” in the fall.  This was started many moons ago, when small children and their friends trashed the house over the summer (wet feet and bathing suits on furniture, sand from the outdoors and the like). I still keep that schedule.  In terms of frugality and efficiency, I clean and organize my kitchen from top to bottom, and inventory my pantry.  This gets me both prepared and in the mood for fall baking, Christmas cookies, and Thanksgiving and Christmas entertaining.  It’s when I clean the cooking fan and the like.

Because windows can be left open at this time of year, fall is the perfect time to do those little maintenance items.  You know, the ones that make what you have last longer and freshen the home at the same time?  For me this includes cleaning the carpets in all rooms. We’ll also rotate the mattresses and wash curtains and bedding. We;ll also do a room by room check of little repairs to be made. And we’ll make a couple minor, low cost improvements such as changing my bathroom toilet area from dark rose to peach and hang some new curtain rods.

I’m sure I’ve left things off my list, which is why I’ll check a couple websites to check their recommendations as I set in for the season change.

What about you. How do you prep for fall and winter, if at all?

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