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Prepare Your Homestead For Winter And Save Money

 

If you were to take a poll here in Upstate NY and ask what everyone’s favorite season is, I can bet it would be a resounding “FALL”!  It sure does have my vote! And if you were to ask if the Northeast likes to save money, I bet you would get an equal HECK YEAH!  Saving money also gets my vote, FYI.

I love the sunny, crisp days (although as I write this at the beginning of October, we see two days worth of 80-degree weather).  I love the colors of the leaves changing and the activities that are a must in our neck of the woods and activities like apple picking and the pumpkin patch.  Let’s not forget the cider donuts!!!

As we embark into the colors of autumn, we also need to keep in mind – waaaay in the back of our brain – that winter will be here sooner than we want it to and preparing your house for winter will save you some money.  Take the time to complete these tasks.

Let’s save money outside.

Lawn

Skip hiring one of those expensive lawn care services this fall.   Now is the time to give it a nice raking and look for those little naked spots.  Throw down some grass seed.

Also, apply some good fertilizer for your grass.  Our winters are long, and I know our lawn could use all the love it can get.  There are some great non-toxic more natural brands of fertilizer out there if you are worried about harmful chemicals.  Ask at your local garden store for some guidance. This will save you some time and save money after the snow has melted.  Your yard will thank you in the spring.

Trees and Shrubs

Walk through your yard and examine any tree branched that need to be trimmed. If you have any shrubs that need a final trim before the flakes start flying, take care of those also.  If your hostas or any other perennials need to be divided and transplanted, this is a great time to do those as well.  We need to transplant my blueberry bushes.  They are getting too much shade under our apple trees.

Also, now is the time to plant those bulbs.  I always love when the tulips and daffodils start poking through the ground first.  Its a sure sign of spring around my house.

Garden Tools

After you have finished with all the shovels and rakes, give them a proper cleaning and store them someplace where they will be safe and out of the way.  Another tip is to remember where you put them so when you are ready to use them, you can find them.  Losing your rake never happens here (insert eye roll).

Performing proper maintenance on your lawn mower is good practice in the fall and will save you time and money when the grass needs mowing.  Draining the gas and oil or putting a gas additive in your tank, cleaning and sharpening blades, replacing spark plugs and filters are all great maintenance tips.  Learning how to do these things yourself is simple with Youtube.  And doing them yourself instead of paying someone else to do it will save money.

The Roof

Just give the roof a once over.  Check for loose shingles and shaky gutters.

Once the snow and ice move in, damage could be much more significant and more costly than just replacing a couple of shingles.  Also, while you are up there, check out your chimney.  Look closely at the bricks themselves and glance inside to make sure all is well.  If you are planning on giving your chimney a good scrub, this is also an ideal time to take care of that. It might be a messy job, but if you don’t mind the dirt, you can save some money.

Also, I am going to suggest considering putting up the Christmas lights now if you celebrate the holiday.  I know its pretty early, but you don’t need to turn them on yet.  Just consider it.  Doing it now when it is 65-70 degrees sure beats doing it when it is 30-35 degrees.  And since you already have the ladder out…

Hose Spigots

After you have transplanted all of your perennials and shrubs, its time to turn off the outside water.  That water in those pipes can freeze over the winter and cause some real damage.  Take the thirty minutes and drain those.  Put your hoses away until next time – right next to the other garden tools, so you know where to find them.  They also sell protective covers for your spigots at a reasonable cost.  It will save money later!

Save money on the inside.

Window Air Conditioners

YEARS AGO, I watched a Youtube video on how to take apart your window unit and clean it in the fall.  I have been doing it every year since.  I have it saves in my favorites.  I take it outside and remove a lot of screws, take off the metal casing and spray it with cleaner.  Then I spray it out with the hose, being mindful of the computers and electrical wires.  I haven’t lost an air conditioner yet.  As intimidating as it was the first time and as insane as my husband thought I was, I find that when you turn them back on in the spring, they don’t have such a musty smell if they have been cleaned out.

I think taking proper care of these will make them last longer.  Air conditioners aren’t cheap.

Windows and Doors

This is where the money goes – right out the window.  Take a few minutes to check out weather stripping and insulators around all of your doors and windows.  If you can feel a draft, run over to the store and grab yourself a roll of weatherstripping.  It is pretty easy to put up, and you won’t be heating the outside this winter.

There are also plastic window kits that you can put up to help keep the cold out.

I put up fleece lined curtains in the fall.  Yes, I am one of those people that change out her curtains twice a year.  We have good quality windows, but no matter what, when the temperature is minus thirty degrees outside, you can feel that through the glass.  I just made some cute curtains with fleece (which by the way, I saw some BIG sales on fleece this week at the fabric store) and an adorable valance in a cotton coordinating fabric.  You can even buy fabric glue for a no-sew option.  It keeps us warmer and stops us from turning up the heat.  Again, save money.

Bedding

Flannel sheets and lots of blankets on the beds will keep you warm so you can turn down the heat at night.  We have our thermostat programmed to hold at 62 degrees at night.  We enjoy the snuggle cool air and warm beds when we sleep.  This allows us to save money on heating costs and have a better nights sleep.

Also, pull out those extra blankets and run them through the wash.  Mine are in the washer as we chat and are about ready to be hung on the line (saving money!).  Add blankets to the back of the couch and chairs so at night when you are watching TV, you can throw one over your lap or cuddle up with your little while reading a bedtime story.

Furnace

Now is a great time to call in the experts to have your heating system looked over and cleaned.  We are not comfortable with DIY-ing this one so it might be a good time to call someone who knows what they are doing.  You could save money keeping up on this rather than paying for an expensive service call later on.

Don’t forget to change your filters once a month.

Programmable Thermostat

I love this feature.  The one we have right now came with the house when we bought it 16 years ago.  But I was thinking about investing in one that learns your behaviors.  It senses when you are moving about and are at home, and it knows when you are away.  It will then detect the best heat for that time.  The system seems really complicated and super cool to me. It is on our list to look into a little bit more.

A regular programmable thermostat is a nice feature of your heating system that allows you to regulate the heat when you aren’t home or awake.  These thermostats are very reasonably priced and will save you money in the end.

 

The colder season is coming and will be here before we are truly ready in the north country.  Nobody wants to waste money, so it is time to plan for the season and save some money while you’re at it.

Now, go out and pick some apples.  We sure do love apple pie in this house!  *wink*wink*

 

 

 

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