It's that time of year to get your home ready for the cold months!  Here are some things you can do that's well within the average person's budget that can save you money and perhaps even your life!  1) Clean those gutters and downspouts.  Gutters that are clogged can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and are more prone to rust and corrosion.  2) Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulk.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, this can account for 10% savings of your heating bills.  3) Check your roof for damaged or curled shingles that can cause a leaky roof.  These problems can be fixed before any disasters arise.  4) Take steps to make sure outside faucets and inground irrigation systems don't freeze and burst.  5) Have your heating system inspected by a professional.  This should be done once a year and now is a good time to schedule an appointment before the cold season begins.  6) Schedule an appointment with a reputable chimney sweep to check fireplaces for soot or creosote build-up.  This also should be done annually.  7)  Keep your family safe at home by testing smoke and CO monitors, inspect (or install) fire extinguishers, review fire escape plans, and get rid of old newspapers and other fire hazards.

Taking time to do these things will ensure that you will prepare your home for a SAFE winter season!