Money Smarts Blog

4 fall projects to get your home ready for winter

Aug 12, 2021 || IHMVCU

House in the Fall

Summer is officially over it won’t be long until temperatures really start to drop. Winter may still be a few weeks away, but it’s never too early to start preparing. The best way to have a warm and cozy winter is to start winterizing your home while the weather is still decent. These fall home-improvement projects will get you outside on the last warm days of the year and help keep you toasty when winter rolls around.

$ = inexpensive  $$ = moderate  $$$ = expensive

1.  Replace or seal old and drafty windows

Are there windows in your home you avoid sitting by in the winter? Do they let air in or even get frosty when the temperatures are low? If you said yes, you just found your first project.

Installing new windows with multiple panes, spacers or filler gasses like argon or krypton can help keep the cold air out. If you aren’t ready to take on the cost of total window replacement, take care of just the problem areas first. Before you buy new windows, check with your energy company to see if purchasing certified energy-efficient windows will qualify for a rebate or financing assistance.

Estimated cost: $$ – $$$

Looking for something a little easier, and a lot less expensive? Caulking and weatherstripping is a good, temporary solution. Caulk any visible cracks around windows and doors and add new weather stripping.

If you really want to keep the air in, seal your windows with plastic for the winter to lower energy costs and prevent drafts.

Estimated cost: $

2.  Fix exterior paint

Peeling or bubbling exterior paint is the first sign that the paint film is compromised and can no longer protect the siding underneath. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to look into repainting the outside of your home before snow and wind damage the siding. You can do this yourself, but a professional will have all the appropriate tools and knowledge to get it done quickly and correctly.

Estimated cost: $$$

If there are only a few trouble spots, you can do touch-ups yourself. Resealing those spots will help keep the winter weather from eating away at your paint and making the problem worse.

Estimated cost: $$

3. Install or maintain exterior walkways

If you’ve been walking through the grass and mud all summer to get from your car to your house, now may be a good time to install a safer walkway before the snow and ice come. Use one of the last nice weekends to install a brick walkway. It will be easier to keep snow-free come winter, and any holiday guests you might have will appreciate a safe path.

Estimated cost: $$

Check your driveway and any existing paths or sidewalks for cracks. Filling them now will prevent the winter freeze from making them any larger.

Estimated cost: $

4. Tune up your furnace

Living in the Midwest, your furnace is one of the most important parts of your home come November. It’s worth the occasional visit from a professional to keep it running efficiently and prevent any catastrophic damage down the road.

Check with your energy company to see if they offer rebates for HVAC tune-ups and repairs. If your furnace needs to be replaced, you may even qualify for a significant rebate when you purchase certified energy-efficient models. Most energy companies offer free home assessments and will let you know exactly what to replace or repair, and how you can save money doing it.

If you do decide it's time for a new furnace, make sure you understand how long it will take to arrive. Lead times have been an issue over the last year.

Estimated cost: $$

If you have a forced-air system, changing the air filter will create a noticeable difference in air quality and will keep your furnace from overworking to push air through.

Estimated cost: $

If your home needs a little more work than a fresh coat of paint and caulk can cover, consider a home equity loan from IHMVCU. Visit us at any branch or online at to get started.

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