The season shift is here and Enviro Girl has a to-do list a quarter-mile long. A few hours of basic maintenance will keep your house green, energy efficient and healthy for the colder weather to come. You’ll save money, too, when you maintain your house properly as the weather changes. As her grandma used to say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.”
1. Check your clothes dryer vents. Enviro Girl cleaned hers the other day in preparation for winter when she’ll switch from clotheslines. She discovered a mouse was making its way through the vent into her house. Dryer vents can also be a serious fire hazard when lint gets clogged in them, and a poorly vented dryer runs less efficiently, too. Take a few minutes and clean out those vents as far as you can reach, then make sure you check from the outside, too (that’s where Enviro Girl discovered the vent flap was stuck wide open, caked with dryer lint). You can replace venting for a few dollars, it’s worth doing so every few years.
2. Clean your fridge. Like your clothes dryer, your fridge runs more efficiently if the coils are vacuumed clean and nothing is obstructing the air flow. Switch out that box of baking soda to keep things smelling fresh, wipe down the shelves and drawers, and throw out the leftover Chinese take-out from two months ago.
3. Clean your oven. It can really stink up the place if you run an oven with food spilled on the bottom surface. Best to clean it now when you can have windows open to ventilate.
4. Conduct some pest control measures. Whether caulking cracks, setting traps or applying pesticide to the perimeter, it’s easiest and cheapest to stop pests from getting inside your home. Once they get in, all bets are off, and they tend to bring their friends and relatives along.
5. Detach your hoses and drain your rain barrels. Freezing water expands, creating cracks and wreckage. Store your empty hoses in a garage or shed, prop your rain barrels upside down.
6. Dust and vacuum ducts, vents and ceiling fans.
7. Change your furnace filter and get it inspected. Enviro Girl’s house has a small, auxiliary furnace. She has it inspected every 5 years, and the high-efficiency filter only requires changing every 3-4 years since it doesn’t run quite as often as a conventional furnace. Clean filters and tuned-up furnaces will save you money in the long run since they’ll run more efficiently. And, an inspected furnace is a safe furnace.
8. Clean your gutters. Gutters clogged with leaves and other debris will not drain properly. Gutters that don’t drain properly crack, corrode and allow unwanted water to accumulate next to your home’s roof or foundation. Enviro Girl will climb onto her roof next week on a dry afternoon to pull out baseballs, frisbees and other stuff blocking the flow of water off her house and onto the yard.
9. Wash those windows and screens. Then, take off the screens and store them for winter while you install your storm windows. **Bonus Tip** Enviro Girl discovered that screens are easier to mend OFF a window rather than ON.
Enviro Girl will be back later with a checklist specifically for the yard and garden. She figures this is enough work to keep anybody busy for a while!