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...