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As the dog days of summer have begun to ease their bite, we can sense the crisper winter breezes right around the corner. Taking steps to protect your home from the harsh climate change is incredibly important- not to mention substantially easier to do when the weather is still in the 70s! By following these eight tips from Home Improvement Leads, you can sit back and enjoy the changing seasons knowing that your home is geared up for its winter battle.

Service Your Furnace
Before the first cold snap, it’s wise to have a certified technician give your furnace a tune-up, making sure that all components are properly cleaned and working efficiently. Though an inspection will probably cost you around $100, it ensures that your unit operates at optimum efficiency throughout the year, saving you money in monthly utility bills and prolonging the life of your furnace overall.

Stock Your Shed
Though meteorologists are usually pretty good at predicting when the first snowfall will be, it’s only natural for a storm to sneak up on us every now and then. Be prepared for any surprise inches by making sure your shed is stocked with ice melt, snow shovels, a snow blower, a roof rake and a generator with additional fuel.

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Attic InsulationIce dams occur when excessive heat enters your attic space and causes snow on the roof to melt. Once it refreezes, the weight and moisture can cause serious water damage inside the walls and roof of your home and in extreme cases can cause the roof to collapse altogether. By adding in an extra layer of insulation, you are helping keep your attic cooler and your rooms toasty.

Switch Ceiling Fan Rotation
Easily the fastest and cheapest tip is to change your ceiling fan’s rotation. During the summer, your fans should spin in a counterclockwise direction when you look up at them so that they circulate the cooler air below. However, with a flip of a switch, they will rotate in a clockwise direction creating an updraft that forces hot air to circulate throughout the room rather than being trapped in the rafters.

Have Your Chimney Swept
It’s likely that you’ve had your chimney sealed off since the end of last winter and you haven’t thought about its cleanliness once since then. Having your chimney inspected and swept before your first fire reduces your risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.

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Seal Windows and Doors
The more thoroughly sealed your home is from the elements, the less your furnace will have to work to keep you warm. Take the time to caulk around windows and doors and apply weather stripping wherever necessary. If your windows are old and drafty, but you don’t have the budget to have them replaced, consider installing storm windows. They will greatly improve your home’s insulation for a fraction of the cost.

Trim Your Trees
Have any dead branches or limbs that hang close to your home and power lines removed so that they don’t break off and cause damage under the weight of snow and ice. Though you may be tempted to go ahead and prune all your trees at the same time, hold off. Most horticulturalists agree that non-pruned plants are better able to survive the harsh winter climates than ones that have been freshly trimmed.

Check for Leaks
The most common winter issue that can happen to a home is broken water pipes. Safeguard against this by disconnecting exterior hoses, draining all spigots, and engaging the shut-off valve withing your home. Don’t forget about your sprinkler system, too! It’s best to have a professional drain your sprinkler system pipes – most charge between $50 and $150 to do so.

With a bit of planning now, you are sure to have a happy-and warm- home the whole winter through.