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The fall smart home checklist: How to prepare for cooler weather

Fall (and the coming winter) bring plenty of changes, including shifting temperatures, new habits around the house, and holiday plans. That’s why fall cleaning is at least as important as spring cleaning, both for your health and your peace of mind.

While there are comprehensive projects to prepare for fall, like cleaning your gutters and checking your weather stripping, we wanted to provide a more tech-focused guide fit for smart homes and homes that want to become smarter. Take a look to make sure the important items are on your list as well as ours!

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Check your thermostat schedule

Photo of a woman adjusting a Nest Thermostat.

If you have a smart thermostat, take a few minutes to dive into the app and check your schedule, along with your heating limits. Is your heating system ready to go at the appropriate temperature? As the days get darker, they also get colder, which could mean adjusting how the thermostat works in the mornings and evenings — balanced with alternative heating measures like fireplaces. Apps make this very easy to customize, and some apps will even make suggestions about ways you can change your thermostat for fall to save more money.

Replace your filters

This is the perfect time to replace all your filters, too. If your HVAC system has a replacement filter, make sure you switch it out with a properly-sized model (that faces the right way). If you have a separate air conditioner unit, replace or clean its filters, too. While you’re at it, check your fridge filters: Today’s fridges from brands like LG and many others will let you know when your refrigerator filters should be replaced.

Clean out your coffee maker

The Keurig K-Duo coffee maker sets on a kitchen counter.

The shorter, darker days have many of us reaching for an extra cup of coffee. That makes this a perfect time to clean out your coffee maker. Many new coffee makers come with cleaning cycles to run hot water through them and clear out the gunk and stale odors. Brands like Keurig even sell their own cleaner, or you can buy some from a third party (or just use a vinegar mixture and wash until it’s cleared out). If you’re starting to wish your coffee maker was a little smarter to help out with things like this, take a look at our list of smart coffee makers.

Maintain your smoke detectors

Nest Protect on wall in bedroom.

Some fire hazards can increase in the fall as heaters get turned on and more cooking occurs in the house. Be prepared by checking your smoke detector alarms and replacing their batteries if you need to. Smart smoke detectors, like the Nest Protect, can send status updates straight to your phone so you know how they are performing and when batteries need to be changed.

Adjust your sprinklers

If your lawn looks a lot less lively over the winter, now is the time to adjust your sprinklers and phase out your irrigation schedule. Smart irrigation systems make this very easy, but even if you have a traditional irrigation panel, resetting the schedule or switching it off isn’t usually difficult.

Check up on your leak sensors

If your smart home or security system includes leak sensors, give them a check-up. Make sure their batteries are charged if necessary and make sure they’re placed correctly. Fall and winter increase the risk of several kinds of leaks and high-humidity situations, including attic condensation, leaks from frozen pipes that crack, and other problems. If you don’t already have leak sensors, you can find options to add to your security or smart home platform.

Along with checking leak sensors, this is a good time to winterize other parts of your home. Do your pipes need insulation? Do you need to block vents in your foundation to increase heating efficacy? Do you need to check the attic venting to make sure moisture doesn’t gather there? What about your chimney? Cover all these steps, and your home will be ready for fall weather.

Get a robot vacuum to manage the dust

iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum using smart sensing to focus on dirt and debris.

The colder months are somewhat notorious for problems with dust. Houses tend to be more closed off, so dust that is tracked inside (or, yes, shed from dry winter skin) tends to linger over time. If you hate dust around your house, consider a robot vacuum like one of the newest Roombas to help out. Robot vacuums excel at taking care of low-level dust, and today’s models are smart enough to empty themselves and recharge automatically, so you don’t need to do much at all.

Find an air purifier to keep the air clean

If that dust and dander buildup is causing health problems in your home, it’s also time to invest in a good air purifier. The best air purifiers on the market are quiet, easy to use, and include several filters to remove odors (another thing that can build up in winter), dust particles, and more. Smart versions can even ready air quality in a room and provide updates, while other models include humidifiers to combat the dry air.

Pick some smart plugs for the holidays

Eve Energy smart plug installed with oscillating fan.

Smart plugs plug into ordinary outlets and allow you to plug other things — like lights — into them, so you can monitor their use and set schedules for them to turn on and off. That’s an invaluable feature, whether you are decorating for Halloween, setting up your Christmas tree, or simply making sure you can control a portable heater from anywhere you are. Take a look at some of the best smart plugs, and if you’re using them for outside lights, make sure you get a weatherproof outside model.

Use a smart LED light to combat SAD

SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, can start to creep in as the days get darker, leading to depression and weariness. If that seems to happen to you every year, think about trying a smart lamp to deal with it. These lights specifically mimic sunlight make the room seem brighter and can help treat some symptoms of SAD. Take a look at models like the Verilux HappyLight, which allows you to adjust brightness, color temperature (more or less like sunlight), timers, and more.

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