While it may seem like summer just ended, believe it or not, now is the time to prepare your home for winter.

"Avoiding routine maintenance now could result in expensive repairs or higher energy bills down the road," said Kazantzis Real Estate Owner and Broker Andrea Kazantzis. "It's better to knock out these chores now before it gets too cold. Then you can cozy up by the fire, thinking about all of the money and hassle you've saved."

Weatherproof Doors & Windows

Any homeowner will tell you, heating a home is a big expense. The last thing you want is for that heat to escape through cracks and crevices in your home. Now is the time to replace screens with storm windows and doors. If you don't have storm windows, you could seal them with plastic. If your window and door jams are drafty, you may also want to use caulk or weatherstripping to seal up any voids.

Clean Dryer Vents

As you can tell from your hair standing on edge, static tends to be worse during winter months, and that could put you more at risk for a dryer fire. Even if you're religious about cleaning the lint screen after each load, the best way to keep tiny sparks from igniting is to clean the dryer vent and hose. If the hose is damaged, you'll want to replace it. 

Reverse Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans aren't just for the warmer months. As you turn up the thermostat, reverse the direction of your ceiling fan. According to The Home Depot, ceiling fan direction in the winter should be clockwise, which pulls cool air up toward the ceiling and in turn displaces the warm air that rises and collects near the ceiling. This is particularly important for high ceilings. To prevent a drafty wind chill" you should run at the lowest speed.

Change Batteries in Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector

It's a good idea to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detector at the beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time. While you're at it, give the test button a push to make sure it works. If your smoke detectors are 10 years or older, it's time to replace them.

Get Furnace & Chimney Checked

The last thing you want is to turn up the heat on a cold winter day only to find the furnace on the fritz. Now is the time to schedule a routine cleaning and service to make sure everything is running properly. Having your furnace cleaned will also make it run more efficiently, hence lowering your heating costs.

You'll also want to get your chimney cleaned and inspected. In addition to fires, a clogged chimney can pose a carbon monoxide danger. Make sure the flue is operational as well. If it's not working properly, it could create a draft when the fireplace is not in use, and cause smoke to back up into your house during a fire.

Winterize Your Pipes

You'll want to shut off water to outside faucets and if you have an underground sprinkler system, you'll want to have the pipes blown out and winterized. 

Inside your home, pay particular attention to pipes that are located in unheated spaces in your home - under cabinets, in the garage, and along exterior walls - as these are the ones more prone to freezing when the temperatures plummet. If time and money allow, you may want to consider adding insulation in attics, basement, and crawl spaces. During particularly cold stretches you can keep pipes from freezing by letting cold water drip from the faucets. In addition, keep cabinet doors open, to let warmer air reach the pipes.

Check Emergency Supplies

Prepare now for winter storms. Make sure your home has an emergency supply kit including:

  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Water
  • Non-Perishable Foods
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Hand-Crank Radio
  • Phone Charger

Don't forget to also put an emergency kit complete with blankets in your car in the event you find yourself stranded in the cold.

Prepare Snow Removal Tools

If you have a snowblower, it may not be a bad idea to turn it on to make sure it's in working in order. You should also make sure you have gas for it. Dig out the shovels and salt so they're easily accessible. You should also put your ice scraper and snow brush back into your vehicle so you're not caught off guard by that first snowfall.

Many of these chores can be knocked out in a weekend. Get them done now, then head into the holidays knowing you're ready for whatever Old Man Winter throws your way.