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Even though it’s only the beginning of October, the winter season will be here before you know it. And if you live in an area that experiences brutally cold temperatures, blustery winds, and snow/ice storms during winter, it’s best to prepare NOW — ahead of time — and get your home ready for whatever Mother Nature may throw your way.

Tip #1: Schedule maintenance for your heating system.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to schedule an annual tune-up appointment for your home’s heating system. Failure to do so could result in higher energy bills, an inefficient unit, and increased risk of having the system break down unexpectedly.

When you schedule an appointment with a professional heating technician, he or she will thoroughly clean and inspect vital working components of your system to be sure things are operating as efficiently as they can. A clean, functioning furnace is one that doesn’t need to work overtime (and experience premature wear and tear) to keep your family warm.

The technician will also ensure that your unit is running safely, checking for any natural gas or carbon monoxide (CO) leaks coming from the system. These issues can be extremely dangerous for your family and will need to get taken care of immediately.

Tip #2: Be sure your home is properly weatherized for the season.

Now is the time to be sure that your home is adequately sealed so that warm air from inside can’t escape, and cold air from outside can’t get in. Make sure that the seals around window and door frames are intact and don’t have damage that needs to be repaired.

Additionally, you may want to contact an energy auditor. This individual will be able to tell you whether you have adequate insulation in the walls, floors, and attic of your home. Without enough insulation, heat will rise and escape through your home’s roof. If it’s discovered that you don’t have enough insulation, the auditor will be able to help you determine the best material and R-value for new insulation that will meet your home’s needs and your budget.

Tip #3: Remember the outside of your home.

There are many to-dos to take care of on your home’s exterior before winter arrives. Drain your garden hose and place it in storage for the season. Keeping it outside could cause it to get damaged by the elements. Additionally, failure to drain and unhook the hose could result in the water freezing at the faucet and pushing back up into your home, where it may cause damage.

Also, check for any cracked or damaged areas of concrete on your sidewalks, porch, patio, or driveway. These already-damaged areas may get worse when exposed to harsh weather conditions. Repair these surfaces now, before the temperatures get any colder. Also, if you have un-level concrete surfaces, they may not be visible when covered in snow and ice, making them even more of a tripping hazard. It’s also important to repair these areas as soon as possible.

Another outdoor task for you ahead of the winter is to put your outdoor patio/deck furniture in storage. Even if it’s been rated “all-weather,” these pieces likely will get damaged from the weather conditions if left exposed in the outdoors.

Trim tree limbs and bushes around your condenser unit (the outdoor part of your air conditioning system) . You need a minimum of two feet of clearance around your system. You won’t be using your air conditioner during the winter, but tree limbs and bushes growing too close to the unit could damage it when they’re weighed down with snow and ice. This could cause problems for your system when you try to run it next spring.

Tip #4: Hire a chimney sweep.

If you have a fireplace in your home, have it inspected and cleaned by a professional before using it this fall and winter. Failure to do so could result in trapped heat and smoke, which could even result in a fire inside your chimney or home. Additionally, a dirty chimney may trap dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) gas, which could be deadly for your family.

Tip #5: Make sure your home will be as warm as possible.

Check to be sure the vents in each of your rooms aren’t blocked by rugs, curtains, or furniture. If warm air being pushed through your ducts can’t make its way into each room, your family may experience cold spots and be uncomfortable on those brisk winter days.

Also, now is a great time to change out your bedding. If you put those flannel sheets away for the spring and summer months, get them freshly laundered and put on your beds. They’ll provide a little extra warmth and comfort on those cold winter nights.

Additionally, don’t forget to open your curtains during the day to let in the sun’s natural warmth! If your rooms can be naturally warmed from the sun’s rays, it may help your furnace to cycle on and off less often.

Want more home maintenance tips?

Check back often at the American Water Resources blog for more helpful homeowner tips and advice. Also, don’t forget to follow us on our Facebook page!