It's the time of year when you trade your T-shirts for wool sweaters, your leaf rakes for snow shovels and your air conditioning for a roaring fire. The first snowfall is exciting and the holidays are just around the corner. But while your kids have visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, you're envisioning sky-high heating bills, bursting water pipes and other havoc wreaked on your home by the plummeting temperatures.
As homeowners we're often faced with the harsher realities of the changing seasons. A heavy snowfall doesn't just mean a day off school or work; it can also mean an overworked furnace, a power outage, even burst pipes. And let's not forget about rising energy costs -- Americans spend almost twice as much of their income on energy as they did a decade ago, according to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. While we can't always predict what Jack Frost will send our way from year to year, we can take a few precautions to ensure we spend less time cleaning up weather-induced messes and fretting over utility bills and more time building sledding ramps in the back yard.
Most winter home prepping can be accomplished in a single, dedicated weekend. And you don't have to spend a lot of money either; you just need to be smart about it. Here we'll take a look at some ways to get your "ducts" in a row for the coming cold.