Winter weather can take a toll on homes and wallets. Along with high heating bills, you could spend a fortune on repairs if you don’t prepare your home for winter. A bit of work now will be worth it come the middle of January. So follow these tips to winter-proof your home, stay warm, and save money this winter.

Clean your gutters

Once the leaves have fallen, it’s time to clean your gutters. Leaves clog gutters, preventing water from draining away from your roof and home. The melt water from ice and snow on your roof could build up and freeze. And these ice dams can cause serious damage to both your gutters and your roof.

Insulate your attic

Warm air rises and escapes homes through attics and exterior walls. To keep your home warm this winter, add insulation to your attic floors and walls. You can also add insulation to your basement ceiling. An attached garage and other exterior walls can also use extra insulation.

Keep your heat on

You should keep your heat on at all times in the winter to prevent your pipes from bursting. You can lower the heat when you leave your house. But don’t turn it off or lower it too much. Burst pipes can cause costly water damage to homes, so it’s worth it to prevent this problem.

Shut off your water when going away

If your pipes burst while you are away on vacation, the damage will be devastating when you return home. So to be extra cautious and prepare for deep winter freezes, turn off your homes water supply when you go away.

Insulate your pipes

Wrap pipes with insulation to prevent frozen, ice-blocked, and burst pipes. It’s especially important to wrap pipes exposed to cold air, such as pipes in your garage and that go outside. If you ever notice frozen pipes, apply heat, e.g. with a blow dryer, to thaw the ice.

Upgrade your windows

Older windows put a strain on your home comfort and heating bills. So if your home is in need of new windows, upgrade to double or triple-glazed windows. Double-glazed windows have two panes of glass for insulation. And triple-glazed windows have three panes for even more insulation. New windows also come with a variety of other energy-efficient features.

Insulate your windows

If window upgrades aren’t in your budget this year, use a window insulating kits from a hardware store. These kits use clear plastic to act as a barrier between your drafty windows and your home. The space between the windows and plastic adds insulation so you can keep more heat in your home.

Seal cracks and leaks

Inspect your home for cracks and leaks that are letting in cold air. You can use a lit candle or an incense stick to test for drafts. Common places for leaks include windows, doors, corners, and foundations. Also check for wires and pipes exiting the home. Use caulking to seal any leaks and apply weather stripping to your doors.

Trim your trees

If you have any trees on your property, trim the branches if they are growing too close to your home or driveway. Once winter arrives, branches can freeze and become brittle. They will be more prone to breaking under the weight of snow, ice, and heavy winds. Avoid damage to your house and vehicles from fallen branches

Remove your window AC

Window air conditioners have plenty of spaces to allow cold air into your home. So remove your air conditioner for the winter and store it in a warm, dry place. If you can’t remove it, cover it with a heavy tarp. A tarp will block cold air and prevent cold-weather damage to your air conditioner.

Use draft snakes

Draft snakes are an easy and affordable way to keep cold drafts out of your home. You can buy these, or make them yourself by filling a long tube of fabric with rice, sand, or kitty litter. Place draft snakes at the bottom of drafty windows and doors to keep the warm air in and the cold air out.

Change furnace filters

For an efficient furnace, replace your furnace filters once a month during the winter. Dirty furnace filters limit air flow, making your furnace work harder to heat your home. Clean furnace filters also help improve your home’s air quality. If you don’t have a furnace, clean your heaters before using them and throughout the winter.

Run ceiling fans in reverse

When ceiling fans rotate counter clockwise, they produce cool air. And when your fan turns clockwise, it will actually disperse warm air that has risen to your ceiling. This helps spread warm air throughout your home in winter. So you can make the most of the much-needed warm air in the colder months

Schedule an annual furnace inspection

A furnace inspection by an HVAC technician will ensure your furnace is in good shape for the winter. These inspections usually include cleaning, lubrication and adjustments that will reduce energy consumption. Technicians also spot issues that could cause problems, such as being without heat.

Close your curtains

If you can’t upgrade your windows, you can still insulate them with thick curtains in winter. During the day, let in as much sunlight as you can. When the sun sets, close your curtains to trap the warm air in your home. This will also prevent cold air from coming in.

Shut doors in rooms you don’t use

Any rooms you don’t use in your home can take away heat from your living areas. So to avoid heating rooms you’re not using, close the doors to these rooms. And if you have a separate thermostat for your rooms, turn the heat down or off—unless there’s plumbing in the room.

Seal your floors

Poorly insulated floors are responsible for up to 10% of heat loss in a home. So check your floors for gaps and cracks, including between the floors and baseboards. Seal any gaps with a silicone-based filler. And cover floors with carpets and area rugs to save heat in winter.

Insulate your hot water tank

Hot water tanks use more energy in winter because they must work harder to keep the water hot. But you can insulate your hot water tank to keep more heat and use less energy. And if your water gets too hot, lower the temperature on your hot water tank.

Install storm doors

A storm door is an outside door often often made from wood, aluminum, or plastic. You can have these doors installed in front of your main doors. These add an extra layer of insulation and protection from the harsh winter weather. Storm doors help keep the warm air in and the cold air out so you can keep your home comfortable.

Be aware of your thermostat

To help keep your heating bills lower this winter, be cautious of your thermostat. Lower the temperature when you leave the house and in rooms you’re not using. You shouldn’t turn off your heat completely during the winter. But you can save money by lowering the heat a few degrees and wearing warm, comfy clothes.