The temps are starting to drop, and the smell of wood smoke is in the air. That's when veteran homeowners know it's time to do these six things if they want to avoid trouble or overspending.
#1 Buy Appliances
Whisper to them. Do a rain dance. Whatever it takes to get your old appliances to wait until fall to go on the fritz. Manufacturers bring out their latest models during the fall, and store owners offer big sales on appliances they want to move out — like last year's most popular dishwasher. So September, October, and November are great months to buy.
But October is right in the middle, when there's still plenty of selection and retailers might be more willing to haggle.
Refrigerators are the exception because new models don't come out until spring.
Related: What Specific Days Will Get You the Best Deals on Appliances
#2 Switch the Direction of Ceiling Fans
Most have a switch to allow the ceiling fan blades to rotate either clockwise or counterclockwise. One way pushes air down to create a nice breeze, and the other sucks air up, helping to distribute the heat. Think counterclockwise when it's warm and clockwise when it's cool.
#3 Clean Windows
Daylight is about to dwindle so why not get as much of it as you can? Clean off all the bugs, dust, and grime from your windows while the weather is still warm enough to do so. For streak-free windows, combine ¼-cup of white vinegar with ¼ to ½ teaspoon of eco-friendly dish detergent and 2 cups of water.
If window cleaning isn't a DIY job at your home, schedule a professional window cleaner (who, unlike most of us, is able to do it even when temperatures plummet) before the end of the month. The closer it gets to the holidays, the busier they get. Bright sunshine on winter's darkest days makes it totally worthwhile.
#4 Schedule a Heating Unit Checkup
To ensure your family will be able to feel their toes all winter, schedule early in the month for your heating unit to be serviced. As temperatures drop, service companies get busier.
Whether you hire your heating company's technician or a contractor to do it, they'll clean soot and corrosion from the combustion chamber, replace filters, and check the whole system for leaks, clogs, and damage. Nothing pairs with a pending blizzard better than the assurance that you'll be weathering the storm with warm air piping through the vents and cocoa in hand.
#5 Get a Chimney Sweep to Inspect the Fireplace
It's time to dust off and sweep the chimney! Best to hire someone who knows wood-burning fireplaces. A professional chimney sweep will ensure your wood-burning fireplace burns more efficiently and will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter. So, yeah, it's pretty important.
Tip: If you don't already have a chimney cap, this is also the time to add one to stop wild outdoor critters from crawling down it — and (yikes!) into your house.
#6 Insulate Exposed Pipes
If you've ever dealt with a burst pipe, you know it's a sad, wet disaster worth preventing. To avoid the stressful (not to mention, expensive) ordeal, prep your home's exposed pipes with foam or heat tape — choosing which one will work best with your climate. Remember: The most at-risk pipes are often those in unheated areas such as an attics, crawl spaces, and garages, so secure those first.