How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Isn't this how winter at home should look?
Isn't this how winter at home should look?

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.