As you bask in the final weeks of summer sun, take advantage of the extra hours of daylight to prepare your home for fall and winter. With some light planning and preventative maintenance, you can take care of the little things that will make a big difference to your wallet and to your family’s comfort.

Give Your HVAC a Check-Up.

Although most heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems last 10 to 15 years, they can last up to 20 depending on how you maintain them. Scheduling an annual inspection with a reputable HVAC contractor is a great way to prevent a problem and to assure that your furnace will work throughout the winter.

Tight budget? No problem. Many companies offer discounts on annual service agreements. At the very least, invest in new filters as a first step towards a healthier system.

Refresh Your Trashcans

If your trashcans took a summer break in a hot garage or on the porch you can sprinkle baking soda at the bottom of each can to help absorb odors. Even if you consistently use trash bags, hot weather can (literally) wreak. Wad up your recyclable newspapers and drop them in the bottom of the bag to reduce order and to prevent leaks.

It also may be the right time to update your residential curbside containers. Most cities expect trash and recycling containers to last ten years and will replace them at no cost when you contact your local sanitation department.

Clean Your Outdoor Grill

Celebrate the season with a final barbeque and then deep clean your grill before putting it in storage. For gas grills, you’ll want to turn the heat on high and let the grill cook (with the lid closed) for a half an hour. Once you have let the grill cool off, brush it off with a sturdy grill brush, remove and clean the drip pans and then wipe everything down with a damp sponge and gentle cleanser.

If you have a charcoal grill, you will need to empty the grill and wipe out the ashy residue. Then scrub it with hot water and dish soap and let it dry before closing the lid for winter.

Check Your Smoke Detectors

It’s no surprise that housefires increase in the winter. Not only are we blasting the furnace, building fires and using the oven, we are likely to have our windows and doors snug against the cold.

Before you hunker down, check all of your smoke detectors to be sure they are working and that you have installed new batteries. It’s also a good idea to check your carbon monoxide filters.

Although preparing for winter may pale in comparison to last dip in the pool, there are real financial benefits. Ensuring your home is properly prepared may save you significant cash and protect your property investment for years to come.

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