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It’s time to start winterizing your home and yard

It will not be long before you feel the chill of winter approaching. Is your home ready? The good news is that winterizing your home does not have to be costly or time consuming. With a free afternoon and a little elbow grease, here are some simple steps you can take to make sure your winter will be warmer.

Replace your furnace filter. It is always a good idea to have a furnace checkup and change your filter before you flip the switch each fall. Filters generally need to be changed out every 1-3 months, depending on the type of furnace you have. Once you know the proper filter size, consider buying several, so you’ll have them on hand the next time you need one.

Clean out your gutters. Before the first freeze, clean the autumn leaves and debris from your gutters to prevent water leaking into the wrong places. This step can prevent awkward trips to the roof in less-than-optimal weather and avoid other costly repairs.

Roll up those hoses. Before night temperatures regularly fall below freezing, roll up your garden hoses and empty your outdoor faucets. Water left in these faucets can freeze and burst, causing flooding, mold and other frustrating and expensive issues.

Check for drafts. When things cool off, it’s usually pretty easy to pinpoint any window and door seals that may not be effective. If you find a window that is letting in too much cool air, consider re-caulking the seal. If you find a door that’s still allowing a breeze, buy a simple weather strip to install in that gap. These adjustments can also lower your heating bill throughout the season.

Prepare your yard. In the fall, it’s important to trim your trees to prevent any winter damage to your home and to your trees. (Due to the chance of injury, this is a great job left to a professional tree-trimming company!) Be sure your roof line isn’t competing with any branches and that your power lines are clear and open. Don’t forget to move temperature-sensitive potted plants indoors. You can also get an early jump on next year’s landscaping by planting some winter-hearty bulbs (like tulips or dahlias) for a brighter spring.