If you live in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area, this is your definitive fall to-do list.
We’re a few weeks into fall and already winter is right around the corner! Have you made the most out of your Fall 2018? Perhaps more importantly, are you ready for another seasonal change? Here’s a helpful checklist of fun things (and not-so-fun things) that you might want to get done before December 21st—the start of the winter solstice.
1. Go for a hike.
Hiking is a great form of exercise, so it’s no surprise that it comes with some fantastic health benefits. Besides that, it’s also a social activity. Last year, Curbed, Washington DC published an article with 10 DC area hikes worth traveling to. It’s definitely worth a look!
2. Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan.
Fun? Not really. Easy? Yes. Money-saving? Double yes. This may come as a surprise to some, but most ceiling fans are now made with a switch that reverses the direction in which the blades spin. It’s very small, so it’s easy to forget about it!
However tiny that switch is, it’s important not to discount its impact. Basically, it’s about time to flip that switch. While in the summer, you want the warm air to lift up to keep your home cool, in the fall, you want to push down the warm air to keep your home, well, warm!
Reversing the flow of air will raise the thermostat by a couple of degrees, saving your heating system some energy and consequently lowering your heating bill by up to 10%.
3. Go pumpkin-picking.
Pumpkin-flavored everything is a fall staple. Arguably, the best of these treats is the classic pumpkin pie. Pick out your favorite pumpkin pie recipe and go pumpkin-picking!
Sure, you could always go to the local grocery store, but what’s the fun in that? If you live in the DMV, we recommend Larriland Farm in Woodbine, MD. Perhaps apple pie is more your style. Fortunately, Larriland Farm is also a great spot to go apple-picking as well!
4. Drain your outside water lines and faucets.
If water is left in your outside water lines and faucets, it could eventually freeze, and the expanded water can cause pipes, faucets, and hose bibs to burst! To avoid this type of disaster, start by turning off the water lines inside your house. (Tip: The shutoff valves are usually located near the main plumbing line that brings water into the home.) Afterward, open the spigots on the outside (aka turn on the faucets) to drain the water in the lines.
Make sure you periodically check the faucets. If water seems to be leaking out, either the shutoff values either aren’t closed all the way or they need to be replaced.
5. Tailgate at your favorite team’s football games.
Break out the jerseys and the folding chairs! No need to make suggestions here, because we’re sure everybody’s got a favorite.
6. Check for air leakage around your home.
Did you know that air leakage accounts for up to 25% of wasted energy in a home? That being said, sealing air leaks is one of the most cost-effective projects you can do for your home.
Air leakage occurs when outside air enters and conditioned air exits the home through cracks and openings. To find out if you have any air leaks, you could try taking a walk around your house and looking for places where warm air can escape and drafty air can come. Most commonly, these areas are going to be the edges of doors and windows. If the caulk is peeling away, scrape it off, clean the surface, and apply a new bead.
Also, look at areas where plumbing pipes, ducts, or electrical wires are sticking through the siding, then caulk or seal around any gaps you see. Even small gaps can cause significant air leakage, causing an increase in your heating and cooling costs.
Additionally, you should check for signs of air leakage inside your home. To start, you could check for dark spots on your ceiling paint, carpet, and insulation. Air leaks in your interior walls and joists can cause staining. As with other areas, recaulking will prevent additional damage.
Are you qualified for an air sealing rebate?
Certified Energy Star program homeowners qualify for air sealing rebates and incentives. Talk to one of our experts to see how you can qualify!
7. Make chili.
Whether you have a tried and tested recipe or you’re ready to try a new one, we recommend shopping for ingredients at the many local farmers’ markets in the DMV. DC Redefined compiled this neat list of locations and their seasonal schedules.
8. Test your alarm systems.
Not only is it almost time to start burning logs in your fireplace, but it’s also almost time to bring the holiday lights and decorations out of storage. To add to the list of fire hazards, the holidays are also a time for lots of cooking.
Set some time aside to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Also, make sure you have at least one functioning fire extinguisher. Check the label for the expiration date and ensure that the pressure dial is in the green (charged) area.
9. Tour a winery.
When you’re done with your hike of Sugarloaf Mountain (see #1), why not congratulate yourself with a glass of fine wine at Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard? It’s just one of the local wineries featured in this article published by DC Fray.
10. Replace old insulation.
There are a few ways to tell if your insulation needs replacing. Signs of water damage, such as mold and stains are two of the most obvious indicators. Aside from air leakage (see #6), ineffective insulation is one of the main reasons why you may be experiencing uneven temperatures throughout your home. Additionally, it also contributes to higher energy bills and water damage.
Replacing your old insulation is a good investment because quality insulation protects your home all year round. If you insulate this fall, not only will your home be warm for the winter, but it will also cool during the summer. If you’re considering an upgrade, spray foam insulation is an investment that potentially has the highest rate of return.
For more ways of how to tell if your insulation needs replacing, see our previous blog: 6 SIGNS THAT YOUR INSULATION NEEDS REPLACING.
11. Attend a fall festival.
Balloon launches, chocolate-making, fire-eating, puppet shows, magic shows—any of these things sound fun? You get to enjoy all these things, plus a good amount of 18th-century history when you visit Pres. George Washington’s home for the Colonial Market and Fair, running November 10 to 12, 2018.