By Catherine Powell
In a little more than a week, it will be time for all of us to turn our clocks back an hour. When you consider all the things that have clocks nowadays, that’s no simple matter. To make the most of the time change, I thought I’d give you a checklist of things to do to get ready for the shorter hours of Fall and winter.
1. When was the last time you checked the batteries in your smoke alarm? – Whether you have a fireplace or not, making sure your smoke alarm works is doubly important when the weather cools down. That’s because people tend to spend more time indoors in the winter than they do at any other time of the year. They also tend to cook more, use electric blankets and space heaters, all of which can cause a fire. Since the chief cause of injury and death in a housefire isn’t from the flames but from smoke inhalation, making sure your smoke alarm has a fresh battery is doubly important at this time of year when your home is sealed up tight.
2. Heater Check – Another problem that tends to crop up when the weather cools down are heater failures. The best way to avoid having to pay an HVAC repairman double time is to make sure that the filters are changed regularly and your heater is inspected every year or so.
3. Chimney Charm – If your home has a fireplace, you need to inspect the flue and the chimney before you light the first fire of the season. If either is blocked, the results instead of a charming fire could be a call to the fire department when the smoke backs up into your home. If it’s been a decade or more since you had the chimney cleaned, now is the time to hire a chimney sweep. Creosote from burning logs tends to accumulate inside the chimney. This material is highly flammable and has been known to start a chimney fire. The only way to clear the creosote out is to hire a chimney sweep.
4. The time to trim your tree is before Christmas. – While most people wait until after Thanksgiving to trim their Christmas tree, now is the time to have the trees that surround your home trimmed. Fall and winter is when trees stop growing. That being said, during the summer months, trees can grow as much as 2-feet. Having your trees trimmed not only helps them stay healthy and balanced, but it reduces the risk that overgrown limbs will scour the shingles right off your roof.
5. Has your wallet sprung a leak? – It will if your windows and doors have leaky weatherstripping. The early Fall is the best time to inspect your windows and doors to repair or replace cracked or missing weatherstripping. This way you’ll save money when your heater isn’t forced to run overtime during the long dark nights of winter.
6. Drain your water heater – Another energy hog in most homes is the water heater. Up to 20% of most electric bills is devoted to keeping the water in your heater hot. What’s worse is the fact that you can reduce the burn if you drain the sediment out of the heater once a year. If your home’s water lives in the garage, this is even more vital, since colder weather outside makes the water heater work harder inside. Google the manufacturer’s directions or find a how-to video on YouTube that can show you how to drain your water heater before you find yourself in hot water when you get the next bill from the power company.
7. Can your fans help keep you warm in the winter? – They can if you reverse them. Since hot air tends to pool at the ceiling, reversing the direction that the blades spin can help to circulate the air that would otherwise be wasted. Not only will this keep you warmer, but it will reduce the amount of time that your home’s heater is forced to run during the Fall and winter. All ceiling fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the blades rotation from counterclockwise in the summer to clockwise in the winter. All it takes to lower your power bills is one flip of the switch.
8. Should you flip your mattress over every year? – Just as right-handedness is more prevalent than left-handedness, the opposite holds true for which side of the bed most of us choose to sleep on. If you’ve ever found it hard to sleep in a hotel bed that’s because most people tend to sleep on the left side of the bed. As a result, that side tends to wear more quickly than the right side. The same goes for the beds in your home. The way to remedy the lumpy bed syndrome is to rotate or flip the mattresses in your home every year. Since people tend to sleep more during the winter, this is why autumn is a good time to flip or spin the mattress.
9. Why is Fall cleaning more important than spring cleaning? – Most of us make it a habit to perform spring cleaning after winter has come and gone. While this is a great way to get ready for spring planting, it’s like locking the barn door after the horse has bolted. What I mean by that is that autumn is a much better time of year to tidy up. Especially if you live in Florida, the yard at this time of year could use a trim, the lawn could do with a mowing and the leaves and twigs need to be raked up before your friends and relatives from more northerly climes decide to pay you a visit.
10. How to reset your body’s
internal clock. – Even though we north
Americans have gotten used to springing forward and falling back twice a year,
that doesn’t mean our body’s internal clock is prepared to do the same. It’s a proven fact that more auto accidents,
industrial accidents and heart attacks occur in the days following the twice-yearly
time change. Even if the change doesn’t
kill you, it tends to make most people drowsy or even grumpy for about a week
until their internal clock catches up.
To help expedite the matter, there are a few things you can do. Adjusting your bedtime over the course of 4-5
days can help get your body back in sync with its regular rhythm. So to can reducing household lighting an hour
or two before you go to bed.
Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/