What feels better than freshening up the house after a long winter stuck inside? Except maybe, to do a thorough house cleaning before that cold season spent indoors. If you’re going to spend the majority of time over the next seven months inside, why not make it a comfortable, energy-efficient and organized one? There is plenty to do around the house in the fall – here’s a checklist of simple ways to make your home more comfortable when cold weather approaches.

Fall cleanup

Any deep cleaning you didn’t get to this spring should probably be done this fall. These tasks may include:

  • Turning over your mattress and washing all of your bedding, including comforters and blankets.
  • Getting your carpets professionally cleaned. Think of all the sand and grass clippings that have been walked in on your flip-flops this summer.
  • Cleaning your windows, inside and out, including in between the sills. If you have new windows that have UV filters and aren’t supposed to be cleaned with glass cleaners, buy some microfiber towels and get it damp with warm water. Wipe the window, then use a dry microfiber cloth to dry it.

Home maintenance

Before the chilly weather of fall begins, make sure your furnace is tuned up for the winter and change the filter. Homeowners with a fireplace should check the flue and have the fireplace cleaned if it is wood burning.

Fall is also a good time to have your air ducts cleaned.

One of the biggest must-do tasks of the season is to clean your home’s gutters if you have it on your home. It’s not a difficult task, just a tedious one. All you need is a power hose and a trowel. If you don’t clean out your gutters, you run the risk of water building up in them during cold weather which can cause “ice damming” and will ruin a roof. It’s also a great time to install gutter protectors that keep debris, like falling leaves, out of the gutters.

Other home maintenance tasks for the fall include:

  • Examining your chimney for any damage.
  • Covering up your air conditioning unit to protect it from ice and snow.
  • Putting away summer equipment, such as outdoor tables and chairs, umbrellas, grills and children’s toys.
  • Touching up paint on and decks, trim and railings. Use a wire brush to remove flaking paint; prime bare wood first.
  • Draining and storing garden hoses. Install insulating covers on exterior spigots and have sprinkler systems blown free of water.
  • Inspecting washing machine hoses for bulges, cracks or splits. Replace them every other year.
  • Checking the dryer exhaust tube and vent for built-up lint, debris or birds’ nests. Make sure the exterior vent door closes tightly when not in use.

 Watch those bugs!

You may notice that there are more cobwebs in homes in the fall, because the spiders are coming in to get out of the cold. Bugs and mice are looking for a warm place to stay for the winter. It’s probably a good time to look for rotted, cracked or damaged wood around the house, which is the perfect entrance for critters into your home.

Look at the trim around the garage door. It’s typically weathered at the bottom. Wood is like a straw, it sucks the water up which then causes it to rot, split and be damaged. It’s important to keep wood on a home painted, sealed and caulked. If you have room in your budget, replacing the wood trim with PVC material trim that requires no maintenance and can be painted is a great solution.

Keep your energy bills at bay

Fall is the time to get your house sealed up and ready for the cold. Start with the basics: weatherstripping and caulking around windows and doors. This will keep the chilly air and bugs out, and keep the heat in. Although caulking is something newer homes might not require, all homeowners should also be checking weather-stripping and door sweeps.

Other energy saving maintenance ideas for the fall include:

  • Installing ceiling fans. With the fan blades tipped to push warm air down, homeowners can help save on heating bills and make themselves more comfortable.
  • Using a hot water heater blanket.
  • Insulating and wrapping pipes.
  • Checking the attic insulation and adding more if necessary.
  • Replacing windows, which, if you can afford it now, can really help save with energy costs.
  • Have an energy audit done, which will tell you where heat is escaping your home and costing you money. You can contact your power company for more information. For example, NV Energy lets you sign up for a free account and gives you the tools you need to perform a comprehensive energy audit of your home. Please visit http://www.nvenergy.com/saveenergy/home/energyaudit.cfm for more information.

Protect your yard

Protecting the outside of our home is equally important so you’re not left with a big mess once spring rolls around again. A few basics:

  • Take care of your pots and planters. Clean them out and store them where they won’t freeze.
  • If you have lots of trees in your yard, get rid of the leaves. Leaves can smother your lawn. Rake them and make sure they don’t pile up.
  • Weed and feed the lawn. Help prevent a weed breakout in the spring by applying weed killer, and fertilize to promote healthy root growth once the warmer season starts.
  • Take care of your tools. Clean before storing. Store metal shovels with the head upwards to prevent rusting when it dries. Sheers need to be oiled up, wheel barrels should be left upside down and spray off the underside of the lawnmower. Doing these will ensure that the tools are ready for spring next year.