Fall has arrived, and winter will be here before you know it. The drop in temperatures means it's time to perform seasonal chores around the house. We also have winter, spring and summer maintenance checklists to keep handy for seasons to come.

Prepare the Outside of Your Home for Winter

If you live in an area of the country where the patio or deck pretty much closes, clean the furniture and store inside. Or you can cover it to protect fabrics from damaging winter weather.

Drain all garden hoses, roll up and remove any kinks, and store inside, as freezing temperatures can cause the hose to crack. Replace insulation on spigots as needed.

If you have trees and landscaping close to the house, trim branches back so they don't brush against the house during storms. You also want to avoid having heavy branches fall and damage your home or car. Outsource this work if you do not have the necessary experience or equipment.

Now is also the time to fix any drainage issues you put off addressing in the summer months. Melting snow and ice should flow away from your home's foundation, not puddle up next to it and potentially leak inside.

Inspect all gutters and drains on the property, removing any leaves and debris that has already gathered in them. You will want to do this every few weeks as the leaves fall to avoid a clog in your drainage system. Again, if you are not comfortable performing this task, as it requires ladder work and heights, assign it to your professional handyman.

Finally, fertilize your lawn. The roots will absorb the nutrients and use them throughout the winter months.

Inside Your Home

Fall is the perfect time to replace the batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as in flashlights. Save partially used batteries to use up in other less vital roles, such as in the many kid's toys that Santa will deliver.

Clean all light fixtures and replace any burned-out bulbs. Remember to set aside any light bulbs that contain mercury for recycling. Not only will you keep the harmful substance out of the soil, but the glass, metal, and other materials can be reused. If you live in California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont, or Washington, you are prohibited by law from sending these bulbs to a landfill.

Drain your hot water heater and check for sediment, which can build up in the tank and decrease energy efficiency and also clog water lines. Your particular water heater will have come with instructions for performing this task, or outsource this job. This is also a good time to check its pressure valve.

Furnace Energy Savings
Remove and clean the filter in your furnace. If you're still using disposable filters, upgrade this season and save money in the long run with a reusable one. They are also more efficient. No matter which you have, though, clean or replace it, as doing so can result in up to a 15 percent savings on your heating bill. Keeping insulation around your furnace in good shape also contributes to those savings.

Some of these tasks also fall on the winter home maintenance checklist. Perform as early as necessary depending on the temperatures in your area of the country. For example, some areas in the south can procrastinate for a few more weeks, while those in the north should not. Remember: Prevention costs much less than repairs.