27 Best Home Upgrades for Fall
'Tis the season for some changes to your house.
Fall is the season for putting on a cozy sweater, popping in your favorite movie, and enjoying the pumpkin-flavored treat of your choice from the comfort of your home. So don't you want your house to be cozier than ever? As Salt Lake City-based interior designer Julie Assenberg says, "fall is the best time to fall in love with your home." But if there are some things you'd like to change to your interior or exterior, it's also a great time to make some home upgrades. Between the pitch-perfect weather and holiday sales (Columbus Day! Black Friday! Cyber Monday!), you can do a whole lot to your house with fewer funds. From minor maintenances to major upgrades, here are the home projects to consider taking on this fall.
Upgrade your exterior accessories.
Every time you drive up to your home, do you wish you had a more modern mailbox or a new light fixture? Well, make sure you get any of those exterior projects done this fall. "You may want to consider a new exterior light fixture, mailbox, and house numbers. These will add the finishing touch that says 'welcome to our home,'" said Assenberg. "Before the snow flies or before those holiday guests arrive, get those exterior projects completed."
Replace your front door.
Not only can replacing your front door give you peace of mind by making sure it's properly sealed from any upcoming winter weather, but it can also add some flair to the entrance of your home. What's more, Remodeling magazine listed steel front door replacements as one of the top energy-efficient remodeling choices for 2019. This one upgrade recoups nearly 75 percent of costs.
Install heated flooring in your bathroom.
No one loves stepping barefoot on to the ice cold bathroom floor every morning. Sure, slippers help; but heated bathroom floors help even more. "Heated floors keep you warmer than a forced-air heating system," Joe LoConte, president of Olivewood Builders in Los Altos, California, told HGTV. "If your feet are warm, you will stay warm." What's more, heating your floors requires less energy than a forced-air system in order to be comfortable.
Build a fire pit in your backyard.
Another luxury to consider adding in the fall is a backyard fire pit. During the colder nights, your friends and family can huddle around the fire, roasting marshmallows and exchanging ghost stories. What could be better?
Switch up your ceiling fan's direction.
If you've never thought about which direction your ceiling fan spins, fall is the perfect time to start. Per the pros at Aux Home Services in Alabama, your ceiling fan blades should rotate clockwise in the colder weather to keep your home warmer. Since hot air naturally rises, any heat in a room will move toward the ceiling as the temperatures drop. And when your fan spins clockwise, it will push the heated air out toward the walls and back down, making the entire room feel warmer. Alternatively, your fan should spin counterclockwise in the summer, so make sure you're making the switch in the fall!
Switch to a smart thermostat.
Everyone wants to slash their energy bill during the colder months, and the perfect solution might just be upgrading to a smart thermostat. These snazzy gizmos will automatically adjust to an energy-saving mode when no one's home, so you no longer have to worry about whether or not you changed the temperature before you left the house. It'll save your bill from rising more than necessary and will keep you nice and cozy all fall and winter long.
Replace your carbon monoxide detectors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most accidental carbon monoxide poisonings occur in the winter. In 2015, there were 393 deaths that resulted from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, with 36 percent of the deaths occurring in December, January, or February. So, if your carbon monoxide detector is in need of replacing, the best time to do so is in the fall, before winter strikes. (Not sure if your carbon monoxide detector needs an upgrade? Experts suggest that you should replace them every five to seven years.)
Invest in an indoor air quality monitor.
According to Tony Abate, vice president of the Connecticut-based AtmosAir Solutions, what you should really be worried about this fall is the air inside your home. "The average home can be a breeding ground for mold, dust, odors, bacteria, and airborne viruses due to poor air filtration and ventilation systems. In the fall, since it gets colder and windows are sealed, it is easy for airborne illness to spread," Abate says. "High-tech indoor air quality devices … not only provide a healthier indoor air environment, but improve the value of a home by reducing monthly electric and gas costs."
Update your heating system.
Most heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units will last you a decade or so, but if you've had yours for awhile, the experts at Anderson Air Corps in Albuquerque, New Mexico, say fall is the best time of year to make an upgrade. Since weather temperatures are still pretty comfortable—not too cold or too hot—you're not depending on your HVAC system as much this time of year. So, you have time to replace it without freezing or sweating your family out of the house. Plus, many companies offer special promotions and rebates during the fall because it's a slower season for HVAC sales.
Add mulch to your yard.
Don't neglect the outside of your home when it comes to making changes this fall. Adding mulch can protect much of your greenery before the winter months set in, shielding roots from snow and ice and prepping your soil for the next growing season.
Insulate your attic.
If you're looking for more ways to make sure your home stays warm as the temperatures drop outside, consider making use of insulation. The experts at Pivotal Home Solutions in Naperville, Illinois, recommend insulating your home in the fall to seal in the heat. This will slash the costs of your electric bills early on, before the real cold creeps in.
Not sure how much insulation you need? Energy Star says a suitable level of insulation in your attic is R-38, or around 10 to 14 inches thick.
Repaint your home's exterior.
If you're looking to give your home a new coat of paint, fall is the best time to do so. Why? Simple: It's the perfect temperature outside for paint to dry. Weather that's too cold can slow down drying time, and, if it's too hot, paint can dry too fast, causing imperfections like bumps, cracks, or discoloration. Consumer Reports' paint expert Rico de Paz says the ideal temperature for painting your home's exterior is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words: Fall is the sweet spot.
Or give it a power wash.
Chances are high your home's exterior could use a good wash—and there's no need to worry about whether or not your house is made from material that can withstand the pressure. Better Homes and Gardens notes brick, concrete, cut stone, stucco, wood, wicker, metal, and vinyl are all surfaces that can be power washed. That said, for any painted surfaces, they do recommend using a nozzle with less pressure.
Repair your roof.
The last thing you want during the snowy season is a roof that's ready to give in at any moment. According to the pros at Pfister Roofing in Paterson, New Jersey, fall is the perfect time to inspect and assess any damages that occurred during the stormy spring and summer months. This way, you can make any necessary repairs before snow storms roll in. Bonus: Repairing your roof during the fall will lead to a better insulated home, which is yet another way to help reduce heating costs in the winter.
Clean out the chimney.
If you have a fireplace, you'll probably want to get some good use out of it during winter. But before you light a single spark, be sure to clean out your chimney. After all, it's likely been sitting unused since the beginning of the year, which can result in a build-up of creosote, a dark, tar-like residue that also happens to be extremely flammable. According to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 22,500 chimney structure fires in 2014. So clean your chimney out this fall before you become a statistic.
Weatherstrip your windows and doors.
Weatherstripping your windows and doors is a fairly easy project to accomplish yourself, and many stores, like Home Depot, sell weatherstripping that'll help you seal your home and prevent drafts. The U.S. Department of Energy also recommends felt, reinforced foam, tape, and rolled or reinforced vinyl as suitable alternative weatherstripping materials. No matter your budget, this is an easy fall upgrade that'll pay for itself.
Replace single-pane windows.
Single-pane windows are your energy bill's worst enemy. These windows, which are most common in older homes, provide little to no safety from the outside elements. Weather Shield reports that most double-pane windows are 50 percent more efficient than your traditional single-pane window. And since drafty windows account for almost one-quarter of a household's energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, upgrading to double-pane windows is sure to keep your home warm—and your bank account plentiful.
Winter days can feel dark and dreary, especially in homes that aren't equipped for letting in an abundance of natural light. However, adding a skylight in your home can make a dark home seem far sunnier! Bennett Contracting in Albany, New York, recommends adding a skylight in your bathroom, kitchen, master bedroom, converted attic, or even a family room to brighten things up this season.
Add slipcovers to your furniture.
On top of regular wear and tear, the holidays can wreak havoc on your furniture. However, rather than splurging on brand-new pieces, there's a far cheaper and easier solution: get some slipcovers. These protective fitted covers slide right on to existing furniture and help protect against any future spills or damages. Oh, and the cleaning process is infinitely easier: just pop 'em in the wash. This way, during your Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas party, spills will be the last thing on your mind.
Trim up trees and bushes.
Snow and frost can leave trees and branches vulnerable to falling on any homes or cars nearby. So, before it gets too cold this year and before the first wintry storm hits, get out there and trim any trees or bushes that look like they could cause trouble in the coming months.
Fix up your gutters.
Kelly Shepard of All Weather Tite Roofing in Massachusetts recommends routine gutter inspection and maintenance twice every year, including once in the fall. The snow of winter can be hard on your gutters, so getting ahead of maintenance in the fall can make all the difference. If your gutters are sagging, if they have any holes or cracks, or if they're full of debris, they either need to be fixed up or upgraded before the winter gets fully underway.
Protect your pipes.
If you only make one upgrade to your home this fall, be sure it's protecting your pipes. If they burst due to the drop in temperatures, you're looking at devastating damage to your home. According to Consumer Reports, a burst pipe is one of the most common causes of property damage in the winter. State Farm recommends either insulating your pipes or upgrading to wrapping heat tape or controlled heat cables around them to prevent freezing.
Trade out your regular medicine cabinet for an LED one.
While lighting can make a difference any time of the year, giving your medicine cabinet an LED upgrade as flu season approaches and when it starts getting darker in the mornings is a great idea, says Marie Graham, founder of The Refreshed Home.
"Some have lighting that can change in tone, others that'll de-fog a mirror," Graham says. "But having perimeter lighting is huge, so much better for grooming than fixtures or recessed lighting."
Add a mudroom.
With the leaves starting to fall and snow on its way, it's a good time to consider adding a mudroom to your home if you don't already have one—or upgrading yours if you do. A mudroom serves as an in-between, separating your beloved curated décor and the outside world, making it the perfect place to leave dirty shoes and coats covered in snow and rain. Lowe's has some comprehensive guidelines for adding a mudroom, which is an easy addition or conversion to a home at an average of 36 square feet (or a little more).
Finish an area of your basement.
As temperatures get lower and lower, your kids will end up inside more and more. However, you still want a space where they can roam around and get their energy out. So this fall, consider transforming an area of your basement into a comfortable playroom. It'll be somewhere for the kids to play when they can't stay outside for long and they won't muddy up the rest of the house.
Install insulated siding.
Kristine Swint, director of marketing communications at Royal Building Products in Canada, says insulated siding is the way to go when it comes to home upgrades this fall. "Having insulating siding combines the beautiful look of real wood and the energy efficiency of industry-leading insulation technology," she says. And, as an added benefit, Swint says that insulated siding can also reduce noise up to 45 percent.
Remodel your kitchen.
As fall rolls around, many people start preparing for the holiday season. With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, it may be the perfect time to consider remodeling your kitchen if you plan on hosting dinner festivities. Making upgrades to your kitchen can help make your holiday cooking and baking more efficient. And who doesn't want to impress their dinner guests with a new upgraded space? And for all the changes you should avoid making to your home, check out the 25 Home "Upgrades" That Actually Devalue Your Home.
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