Sep. 21—As temperatures begin to cool down and the cost of building material drops, more people will be planning home improvement projects this fall season.

Earlier this year, the price of construction materials had skyrocketed due to multiple factors related to the pandemic. But the pandemic has also kept many people home, and one way to pass the time has been to complete improvement projects around the house. Now that tags on some items have been slashed, coupled with people’s new-found love for home makeovers, it’s a good time to plan another task.

Christian Cruz, manager at Tahlequah Lumber, said some material has dropped anywhere from 60 to 150 percent.

“Everything we’ve seen is generally trending down,” he said. “Doors and windows are the only things that have been unaffected by that, because those are mainly things that we’re importing in, or at least importing parts of in. So we’re still seeing super-long wait times, but as far as the bulk of your actual building materials, all of that has become cheaper.”

There are some projects that can wait, and others that need to be done before the winter season hits. During February, Oklahoma’s prolonged winter storm forced power outages and boil water orders. The storm provided for the lowest statewide average temperature ever, and it made life busy for area plumbers.

Cruz suggests people install pipe insulation and get ready to close off their crawl spaces to avoid losing their water this go round.

“We must have had 50 or 60 different houses where pipes just burst clean open,” he said. “That’s something to look out for. And now is the time to check your roof, before the winter season comes. Any patch work or anything like that should be done now, because when ice gets in there it will expand and make that leak bigger.”

With fall beginning on Wednesday, bonfire season is just around the corner. Folks might like to spruce up their backyard with a fire pit, lawn seating, and some extra lights to enjoy the night time breeze soon to come in. Tahlequah Lumber has some innovative smokeless fire pits available, but people have also been visiting to buy fire pit material.

“You can build them out of the concrete blocks that we have,” Cruz said. “We have some guys around here that have built more permanent, actual fire pits out of concrete blocks and fire brick, which we have all stocked here.”

Some projects can also help save on energy this year. Cruz said most weather stripping around doors and windows typically has an expiration date, and needs to be replaced every year.

There are some basic steps people can take to make their home more energy efficient. According to Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Extension housing and consumer specialist, nearly half of the energy used in the home goes to heating and cooling.

“Making smart decisions regarding your home’s heating and cooling system can have a big impact on utility bills,” Peek said. “A few simple steps around the home can pay big dividends when the weather cools down. Think back to the deep freeze Oklahoma experienced in February this year and remember how your utility bills reflected the increased energy usage.”

Changing the air filter regularly is one easy way to increase a system’s efficiency. A dirty air filter slows down air flow and makes heating and cooling systems work harder. It also stops the build up of dust and dirt, which can lead to a costly repair in the future.

Scott Frazier, OSU Extension energy management specialist and associate professor in the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, suggests investing in a thermostat driven be smart technology to help lower utility bills.

“A smart thermostat lets you control the home’s heating and cooling temperature settings from a smart device such as a cell phone, tablet or computer,” he said. “These thermostats are Wi-Fi enabled, which allows access to the temperature setting and other features through an application downloaded on your smart device.”