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Don't wait until the first cold winter day to find out that your furnace doesn't work. By spending a little time getting ready now, you'll be prepared when the season changes.

Check your HVAC system. It's a good time to replace your air filter if it's dirty. Also, call a pro for a seasonal maintenance checkup to make sure your furnace or heat pump is in good working order.

Program your thermostat for savings. Install a smart thermostat and set it so that you don't heat the house as much when you're asleep or away. This step alone can save up to 10% on heating costs.

Check insulation and air sealing. Air seal windows and doors to reduce drafts and make sure insulation is working up to its full potential. Add more insulation if needed. Proper insulation and air sealing in the attic can not only make your home more efficient, but prevent ice dams on the roof.

Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and change batteries if needed.

Change ceiling fans. Switch ceiling fans to rotate clockwise and set them to run slowly while you're home. This distributes warm air more evenly so that your furnace doesn't have to work as hard to keep you comfortable.

Check fireplace. Check your fireplace and chimney to make sure they're clean and that the flue is in working order.

Insulate pipes. Insulate pipes in crawlspaces or any place where freezing temperatures might cause pipes to freeze and burst.

Drain hoses and cover hose bibs. Outside, drain hoses and store them for the winter. Protect hose bibs with covers.

Clean gutters. Finally, clean out gutters so that they don't clog and freeze. This can damage the gutters and siding.

You can get your home ready for winter to make it safer, more comfortable and more efficient all season long.