Fall Home Maintenance Checklist – Heating Tips

Front yard of Tudor home with leaves on the ground

You’re burning daylight. With the usual suspects—Jack Frost, snow, and higher utility bills—arriving sooner rather than later, you need to prepare your home for those long, cold winter nights. We have a list of affordable home heating systems maintenance that is so quick and easy, you might be able to complete it during that extra hour you get back when Daylight Savings Time ends. (O.K., probably not. Sleep that extra hour, but then get up and get this done.)

Cast a spell on your ceiling fan

a homeowner pulls the cord to start a ceiling fan
Flip the switch on your ceiling fan.

You want to know that the cool breeze across the back of your neck is from a poltergeist, not your ceiling fan. With your fan turned off, use a ladder to reach the small switch on the side that changes the way your fan runs – from counterclockwise to clockwise. This simple action sends the warm air flowing up and keeps the cool air from blowing down (on you).

Make your furnace filters disappear – and reappear!

a handyman changes an air filter on an HVAC unit
Replace or clean your furnace or HVAC air filters.

Before the cold settles in for the winter, replace your old furnace filters. Having dirty air filters lowers your home’s energy efficiency and can create an unsafe environment. How often you need to replace your air filters varies depending upon the make and model. Some units are high maintenance and require a change every month. Others require you check on them only once or twice a year. Find out more about your heating system and how to keep it functioning properly and safely in our winter heating survival guide!

Insulate, insulate, insulate

a homeowner lays new insulation in his drywall
The key to keeping warm in the winter is insulation.

Insulate your attic for heat retention, which should lower your utility bill. Consider investing in a stair cover for your attic’s hatchway. Insulate your water pipes with foam rubber sleeves or use insulation wrap to keep them cozy all winter long. Finally, insulate your window treatments to add an extra layer of warmth—like another blanket—to keep the cold out and the heat in. Don’t forget to check your insulation annually as part of your home heating maintenance list.

Lower your heating bill by replacing your old weatherstripping – no trick!

a homeowner uses a caulking gun to seal a window
Keep the warm air in and the cold air out.

This is one super easy fall heating maintenance trick. In less than 10 minutes, you can seal your door by pressing the adhesive edge of the weatherstripping into the molding along the doorway. Cut away excess stripping and voila! You’ll enjoy reduced airflow and fewer drafts. Complete weatherstripping on your windows with the help of a peel and stick roll (or a caulk gun). Depending upon the choice of weatherstripping, including felt, rubber, and even metal, you may see savings in your heating bill up to 30 percent.

You may have never thought about all the heat you’re losing through your outlets. Stop the heat – and your utility bill – from slipping away from you by installing socket sealers. Simply remove the outlet’s faceplate, install socket sealer, and then replace faceplate. As we said, quick and easy.

Set your thermostat (lower)

a homeowner turning down her thermostat
Save energy, save money!

It doesn’t need to be super fancy, but a programmable thermostat can help you save money. By lowering temperatures at certain times of the day—say, during work hours when you won’t be home (wishful thinking)—you can also lower your heating bill. Learn more fall home hacks in Not-So-Scary Essential Fall Home Maintenance.

‘Tis the season to inspect your HVAC

a woman in a sweater touches a cold radiator under her window
Call before you lose heat.

One of the most frightening nightmares you can have is a cold winter’s night. Before you flip the switch that magically turns your air conditioner into a heater, call a professional to inspect and service the system. This helps to ensure that the heat will be there when you need it, and getting your unit serviced annually can help to keep it running longer – saving you money over time.

While your fireplace should not be used as a heating device, now’s the time to get it inspected, too. Learn more about gas fireplace maintenance and safety in 5 Burning Questions (and Answers!) About Gas Fireplaces.

Keep your toes warm all winter

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Originally published Oct. 29, 2019; updated Sep. 30, 2022

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