Winterize your home while the weather is fair

Hot, huh? So you probably aren't thinking about winterizing your home, but August is a great time. While the weather is good and before the crazy-busy fall season strikes, taking some time to button up your household can save you big this winter (note: gas and electric prices are going up, up, up).

Here are a few of our suggestions to prepare for the season of cold and ice:

Furnace tuneup - Money spent on furnace maintenance can be recouped quickly in fuel savings. Make sure the filters are changed, and the humidifier is working. If your furnace exhausts into the chimney, check that too. In fact, check it anyway, to make sure it's not serving as a condo for a family of homeless critters.

Drainage - Take advantage of the next downpour to check your gutters and downspouts for leaks that could lead to ice build-up in the winter. Also check the soil level around your foundation for any low spots that might cause water to pool against the house rather than drain away, and fill those in. Trim back hedges, ivy, etc. and rake dead plant material from around the foundation to allow it to dry between rains. Don't forget to clean gutters in the fall; you did clean them last fall, right? If not...

Windows - Check your caulking around windows and redo as necessary. Check the latching mechanism, lube, and the cranks or pivots, too, and replace insulation and seals as needed.

Doors - Check your insulation, thresholds, and sweeps and replace as needed to maintain a tight seal. Check/replace the garage door weatherstripping, too.

Exterior - Check for energy leaks around entry holes for television and phone cables, furnace exhausts, and anywhere else a hole has been drilled in your house. Caulk as necessary.

Taps - Check outside taps for leaks. Replace gaskets as needed, and be ready to turn off supply to these taps when winter arrives. Caulk any gaps around the water line's exit from the house.

Roof - Check for loose or missing shingles, holes in a membrane, or other small problems that could become huge in a winter blast.

Insulation - I wouldn't suggest going into your attic in August, but the cost of insulation will be very easy to pay off in energy savings this year, so you might check to see if more could be added. If you don't want to do the grunt work yourself, now might be a good time to get on the schedule of a pro.

Lights - Check porch lights, yard lights, floods. Also check outside outlets; if they are not capped, cap them.

Birds - Check/clean your bird feeders and bird baths; gunk builds up in even the busiest of them. And we don't want our squirrels to starve or go without baths, do we?

A little attention now, while the weather is balmy, might head off an expensive, mid-winter, ice-coated struggle.

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