It's time for homeowners to start tackling that fall home maintenance checklist before the hostile winds and freezing temperatures of winter roll in. For motivation, we found some Web sites and videos that make these chores seem moderately easy.
- Reduce your home heating costs (from www.howcast.com): A Web video offers tips about how to lower heating costs while being more ecologically conscious. For example, homeowners can do such simple things as wear sweaters, install boiler blankets and pipe insulation, or close draperies during the evenings. Other reminders: Some gas or electric companies offer free energy audits that assess the efficiency of rooms and suggest improvements. And some utility companies pay for programmable thermostats or subsidize roofing insulation.
- Sweep into winter with a clean chimney (from www.moneypit.com): "The Money Pit," a home improvement radio show, includes an article on its Web site about how to keep a chimney safe. Among the advice: Inspect for cracks or other external structural damage, clean out the flue (dirty flues are the "leading cause of chimney fires") and know what to ask a chimney sweep before hiring one.
- Installing blown-in insulation (from www.easy2diy.com): A cartoon tutorial includes nine narrated frames that make installing blown-in insulation in exterior walls look relatively straightforward. The video includes details such as where to find studs, where to drill holes and how to patch walls. Don't worry about taking notes, because you can scroll down the page for a shopping list, related how-tos, what you need to know before you begin and step-by-step instructions.
- Make your doors draft-free (from www.thisoldhouse.com): The television program "This Old House" has a Web site full of videos and how-tos from its magazine. In one article, learn the seven steps for installing weatherstripping around a door. The graphics and photos with each step make the project seem less complicated. To help you decide whether you can do this yourself, there's a shopping list, estimated project time and budget, and a warning about the skill level and patience required for the job.
- Readying the garden for the chill (from www.hgtv.com): Good for the novice gardener, an HGTV article offers such common-sense tips as bringing in tender plants and turning off automatic sprinklers. But it also provides lots of links that delve into details about other topics, such as sealing concrete lawn ornaments (to prevent breakage) and constructing a cold frame (to extend the harvest season of winter vegetables).