TIP OF THE WEEK

Autumn is the ideal season for smart home maintenance. Readying for winter keeps you cozy, protects your property and helps you save money on utilities. Here are 10 must-do steps according to Travelers.com:

Have your heating system cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified technician.

Replace your furnace filter in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

Insulate water pipes in areas exposed to freezing temperatures.

Check gutters for damage and confirm they’re securely attached to the house.

Clean gutters and downspouts to keep debris from accumulating.

Check and repair caulking around doors and windows that show signs of deterioration.

Have your chimney cleaned and maintained by a professional.

Check electrical outlets for loose-fitting plugs or receptacles. Be sure not to overload electrical outlets.

Keep a multi-purpose fire extinguisher accessible. Confirm that it is fully charged and ready for operation.

Inspect your smoke detectors.

WINTER HOME

Get your home ready for winter with these tips

Fall is not without its own DIY checklist. Get your home ready for winter with these tasks from Better Homes & Gardens.

* Clean those gutters. Remove leaves now from your home’s gutters and downspouts or winter moisture could add to this debris, creating ice dams and damaging your home.

* Take care of your yard equipment. When you’ve mowed your lawn for the final time, clean your mower to remove the excess debris and drain it of gas; otherwise, this liquid could become stagnant over the course of the winter.

* Caulk those cracks. You ask your furnace to work overtime during the coldest months of the year, so give it a hand by closing outside drafts. Applying caulk to any opening will keep the area secure over the winter.

PUMPKINS

3 creative alternatives to carving pumpkins

Pumpkins are the quintessential home decor piece during the autumn season. While most people pick up the carving kit, there are many other ways to enhance your pumpkin that don’t involve a knife. Here are a few ideas from www.everythingmom.com:

Crayon: Crayons won’t make a dark mark on your pumpkin’s skin, but if you use a hair dryer on the hot setting, you can hold different colors at the top and watch the wax melt and drip down the sides for a lovely look.

String art: Hammer small nails into your pumpkin, leaving about a half inch revealed. Then take string and wrap around the nails to create a beautiful spiderweb of designs.

Pushpins: Use tacks with colorful heads to create any design of your choosing. You could spell out your family name or simply add a delightful array of polka dots.

PETS

Amazing home renovations for your pet

Your pets are part of the family, but have you ever considered making them part of your next home renovation? If you’re looking for inspiration, consider these projects from Realtor.com.

* Built-in feeding station. This customized space looks like any other cabinet drawer but keeps pet bowls out of the way and pet food off the floor.

* Specialized shower. If your pet is routinely dirty, consider making a custom pet shower part of your master bathroom renovation. Make sure it comes with a long hose to make rinsing easy.

* A place to gather. The kitchen has a natural way of bringing everyone together, including your pet, so add a personal pet space underneath the center of your island. This way your pet can be part of what’s going on without getting in the way.