Give Your Home an Annual Checkup to Help Save Energy, Money

(ARA) - Clean out the gutters. Put away the deck furniture and grill. Have the furnace checked. Sound familiar? Fall home improvement projects can help protect your home from cold weather and help save money on costly repairs down the road.

"An annual walk-around is a great way to check for potential maintenance needs for your home," says Kathy Krafka Harkema, spokesperson for Pella Windows and Doors. "Check major systems that help protect your house - the roof, gutters, siding, exterior finish, windows, doors, foundation and steps, plus interior components like heating, cooling, chimney and electrical systems."

Look for obvious signs of deterioration, damage or potential problems, Krafka Harkema advises. Replace or repair worn or broken items before they cause potential problems.

Start with new storm door

One quick project is to install a new energy-efficient storm door. A storm door brings natural light into the home, while helping to keep the cold, wet weather out.

The new Pella Venetian storm door, available at Lowe's across the U.S., offers between-the-glass blinds that are easily opened or closed for added privacy and light control. Plus, its insulating glass design adds energy efficiency to your home's entryway and reduces the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays that can fade interior floor coverings and furnishings.

"Adding a new storm door is a quick, affordable way to boost your home's energy efficiency, improve the curb appeal and help protect the entry door from the weather," Krafka Harkema says.

Inspect windows, doors

When checking your home's windows and doors, inspect the interior and exterior finishes around them. Is the paint or stain in good condition? Signs of flaking and peeling or water stains may mean that it's time to refinish or replace the unit.

Next, check windowsills and tracks for dirt and debris like sand, leaves, insects or pine needles. Open windows and doors to clean out the area with a soft brush. Debris can hamper the airtight effectiveness and overall performance of doors and windows.

"An easy, effective winterizing tip is to look at the weather stripping around doors and windows," Krafka Harkema says. "Reattach loose pieces and replace those that are ripped or torn."

Finally, feel for uneven sliding and sticking when you open and close a window. Try using a non-oily lubricant, like paraffin wax, on the opposing finishes.

Replace for safety's sake

Windows and doors that do not open and close easily could be a safety risk, especially in the event of a fire. Replace broken or inoperable windows and doors with safer, more energy-efficient ones.

New low-maintenance Pella 350 Series premium vinyl windows and sliding patio doors are up to 83 percent more energy efficient and can help save up to 35 percent on energy costs. These innovative windows and patio doors offer energy-efficient options that will meet or exceed Energy Star guidelines.

"These vinyl windows and patio doors are designed for homeowners who want it all," Krafka Harkema says. "They offer top-of-the-line energy performance, low-maintenance, durability, popular sizes and stylish options to fit nearly any home."

Ten signs it's time to replace your windows

To help save energy, look for these signs that it's time to replace your windows:

* Overall poor performance of the window - Opening or closing is a difficult task and air leaks in, out or around the window.

* In a fog - Condensation or fogging occurs between panes of glass.

* Chipping away - Chipping, peeling or deterioration on the finish on or around the window.

* Singled out - You have a home with single-pane windows, much less energy-efficient than double or triple-pane options.

* Water logged - telltale water stains remain on the leaky window or the area around the window (inside or out).

* Out-of-date - Replacement parts are hard to find or even non-existent.

* Energy hog - Energy bills are on the rise, so it's time to help increase your home's energy efficiency.

* Draft dodger - You can feel cold air or drafts when sitting near the window ... and it's closed.

* Shut in - Windows are painted or nailed shut.

* Simply put - The window won't open easily or won't stay in place once you do get it open.

To begin your window or door replacement project, to schedule an in-home consultation, or locate your nearest Pella Windows and Doors Showroom, visit Pella.com to connect with your nearest representatives.