It’s time to think about preparing your home for the late fall and winter ahead. Taking these steps will not only keep you warm, but they can also save you money.

Here are 9 things you can do to ensure you and your family are cozy and comfortable all winter long.

  1. Prep your furnace and hot water heater. You should have your furnace inspected annually to ensure it is operating at peak efficiency. Filters should be vacuum-cleaned or replaced. You should also consider insulating your water heater and any exposed pipes to prevent heat loss.
  2. Look at baseboard heaters, vents, and radiators. Make sure all heating vents are open and unobstructed. If you have baseboard heating, remove the outside cover and vacuum out any dust and dirt that’s accumulated. This will ensure that the entire unit is heating properly. If you have radiators, place aluminum foil on the wall behind them to reflect heat back into the room.
  3. Get your fireplace ready. Your fireplace should be inspected and cleaned every other year at a minimum. If you tend to use it continuously you may want to have it swept yearly. A chimney sweep will remove any creosote build-up, inspect the chimney liner, and the exposed masonry on your roof. Be sure your fireplace flue is closed when not in use.
  4. Check your windows, doors, and floors. Be sure that all windows are properly sealed and add weather stripping to the bottom and sides of drafty doors. Replace light curtains with heavier window coverings. Use area rugs to keep floors warm.
  5. Reset ceiling fans. Ceiling fans are as useful in the winter as they are in the summer months. Fans should be set to spin clockwise to keep warm air from rising.
  6. Install a programmable thermostat. Smart thermostats from Nest, ecobee, GE, Honeywell, and Emerson are able to learn your schedule and adjust the temperature appropriately. And, because they are connected to your wifi network you can control your home’s heating from your smartphone. No more worrying about leaving the heat on when you’re not at home.
  7. Bring out the space heaters. If you’re home during the day, consider using a space heater to warm a single room and keep the rest of the house cool. Use a space heater with a timer and make sure it is positioned in an open area to avoid a possible fire.
  8. Keep your attic cool. Be sure your attic is properly insulated. A cool attic is an indication that heat is not being lost through the roof. An insulated attic will also prevent the melting and freezing cycle responsible for ice damns.
  9. Get an energy audit. According to energy.gov, home energy audits tend to range from $300-$500 and are sometimes subsidized by local government or utilities. Some contractors will also reduce the cost if you hire them to make the recommended improvements to your home. A thorough audit, that is inside and out, can result in anywhere from 5 to 30% savings on your monthly energy bills and keep you and your family cozy and comfortable all winter long.

You don’t need to turn the heat up to keep yourself warm. Wear an extra layer or cozy up with a heated blanket or water ball. Keep your kitchen warm by baking a cake or roasting a chicken. Lastly, a great way to stay warm is keep comfy blankets available around the house and cuddle with the ones you love.