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Image: CommonSenseHome.com

Like it or not, colder weather is coming. And with snow and ice looming, it might feel like Mother Nature is going to have the upper hand for the next few months. Taking the time to properly prepare your home for winter can take the sting out of those bitterly cold mornings—and it’s easy to do, according to our friends at HGTV.

First, prepare in advance for things you know are going to happen—the heating bill will increase, you’ll need rock salt, and it’s a good idea to get the furnace tuned up and change the furnace filter. So set aside some money now to account for those expenses.

You’ll also want to check your windows—are they drafty and letting cold air in? A quick fix is to stop at a home improvement store for clear plastic covering that seals the window area without obscuring the view. You can also caulk around the window frame to reduce air movement into and out of the house.

Switch your ceiling fans to a clockwise rotation to push air downward and help you to feel warmer. This also saves you money on heating bills!

If you’re a fan of warm fires in the fireplace, get your fireplace inspected to be sure that it’s safe for burning. A chimney sweep will clean the inside of the fireplace to reduce or eliminate the chances that something in the chimney could catch on fire. The sweep can also repair a loose damper, which allows cold air to flow right down into the chimney and out into your living space.

Doors tend to be very drafty, so roll blankets up along the bottom of doors to keep the cold air at bay. You can also get creative and sew your own “draft buster.” Or check out the array of trendy, funny, and downright adorable ones on Etsy.

On the outside of your home, turn off water faucets to prevent them from freezing and possibly bursting. And check the gutters to be sure they aren’t full of leaves. A backed-up gutter can lead to water making its way into your home.

According to BobVila.com, it’s important to check the tree branches on your property to ensure they’re healthy and aren’t too close to electrical wires. If a branch, especially a pine tree branch, is weighed down by snow and ice, it can pose a big problem to wires. Trim as needed to protect the trees and the electrical lines.

Finally, take a look around your yard. Are there still ceramic pots outside? Dump out the soil and bring them inside to prevent them from shattering during winter’s freezes and thaws. Bring your gardening tools inside and replace them with snow shovels for easy access, and get the snowblower tuned-up before the first big snowfall.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to put the snow brush and ice scraper back into your car.

Prepare a little at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed and be sure to schedule service calls in advance to beat the rush. Once you’ve accomplished your winter preparation goals, you’ll be ready to kick back and watch the snowflakes fly.