6 Ways To Save On Fall Maintenance
If you live in an area where the fall season means preparing for extreme winter weather, you know that the work can be expensive, back breaking and time consuming. Not to worry, though, we've collected some tips to making those fall chores fit more comfortably in to the budget. (For related reading, take a look at Save Money By Winterizing Your Home.)

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  1. Fix Those Leaky Windows
    Here's a quick quiz: How much of their annual energy costs does the average consumer throw away because of leaky windows and doors? The answer? 10%. If your energy bill averages $150 per month what would you do with an extra $180? A general cost analysis would reveal that if you spend less money than 10% of your annual energy costs, this fall activity is worth the cost.
    Take a stick of incense and go around the perimeters of doors and windows. If the smoke flickers, there's a leak. Purchase a $5 tube of acrylic caulk to fix many of these leaks. That's a lot less than $180!

  2. Gutter Guards
    If you don't address the leaves and debris in your gutters, your gutters will eventually clog. As water builds up, so will the weight in the gutters. This can not only cause roof damage, the weight can pull the gutters down. Professionally installed gutter guards can cost $30 per foot or more. This can total more than $5,000 on a 2,000 square foot house. There are do it yourself gutter guards that cost as little as 50 cents per foot. (Learn more great tips in 10 Home Repairs That Will Save You Money.)

  3. Leaf Removal
    With the right equipment, taking care of a yard full of leaves takes a fraction of the time but how many times do you clean up leaves in a year? Two out of 12 months? If you're the frugal type, you know that buying leaf blowers, tarps and rakes isn't cost effective if it is only used a few times a year and if you do buy a low cost leaf blower, it may not be powerful enough if your yard has a lot of trees.
    But how about making it a neighborhood effort? Rent a few large blowers and borrow some tarps and do a few lawns over a weekend. This is also a great plan if you have exposed roots or stumps that need removed.

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  1. Furnace Inspection
    You're in the dead of winter, it's snowing, it's windy and the temperature is a comfortable minus five degrees and you notice that it's getting cold in the house. Your furnace is out and the heating and air conditioning person can't get there because of the weather. It's now the weekend and the rates are twice as high. All of this could have been avoided by getting your furnace inspected in the fall. Among the important mechanical inspections, they also check for carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that can build up in your house.
    Often, during the offseason, heating and air conditioning companies offer special pricing for these inspections. Some also offer maintenance plans that include furnace and air conditioning inspections for cheap. (Redoing your kitchen? Don't miss 7 Ways To Save On Home Remodeling.)

  2. Insulate the Pipes
    A broken pipe not only requires a plumber, but the water can damage floors, appliances, walls, and other valuable items. The biggest cost involved in this repair is time. Foam pipe insulating kits are widely available in home improvement stores. To save money, don't just buy the kit. Check plumbing supply stores to see if the individual parts cost less than the kits. Insulating pipes is a prime example of a miniscule investment to save a major repair cost later.

  3. Clean the Chimney
    Spending money to clean the inside of your chimney is worth it because a dirty chimney is a fire hazard. Over time, flammable creosote builds up in your chimney and can cause a chimney fire. This is one of those times when spending the money on a professional cleaning is worth the expense. A professional cleaning will cost about $150 - well worth the peace of mind knowing that a fire hazard has been removed. (Don't get caught with these pricey problems. Read 5 Expensive (And Unexpected) Things That Can Happen To Your Home.)

The Bottom Line
Preparing for the winter months can be costly but the cost is small compared to the costs of repairing your home because of lack of routine maintenance. Spend a little bit of money now to save money later.

For the latest financial news, check out Water Cooler Finance: The Post-Stimulus Slump.

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