The temperature has already dropped in most northern states, but that doesn’t mean it is too late to get your home buttoned up for the really cold winter months ahead.Give yourself the peace of mind that comes with knowing your home is prepared to weather the ice and snow efficiently – in other words, without costing you an arm or a leg.Alicia on “Knowing your home”It can be tempting to run everything in your home by the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” motto – not touching or thinking about maintaining an appliance until it dies or fails. When it comes to your house, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. For example, a dryer from 1985 that still works well and is problem-free probably has a filter system that isn’t working as well as it did the day it was purchased, which makes it a serious fire hazard. So, put your preventive-medicine hat on and get ahead of fires, leaks and other costly damages by enlisting a professional to check the pipes, and appliances like the refrigerator, washer/dryer, furnace and water heater.Sarah on “Tracking warranties & service plans”Warranty papers and service plans, especially those that come on the actual product receipt, have a way of floating around kitchens, home offices, purses, pockets and dresser tops without ever landing in a permanent, easy-to-find spot. Think about taking some time now to round up the paperwork on all of your appliances and storing them in a designated file or folder. We recommend buying an inexpensive accordion file, titling it “Appliance files” and using it to safely house all of the warranties, service plans and receipts for important household items. Keep your file folder in an easily accessible spot, like a filing cabinet, utility closet or bookshelf and refer to it as needed. That way, if a professional checks an appliance, like your refrigerator, and finds it isn’t functioning properly, it doesn’t have to mean hundreds or even thousands down the drain.Here are other key areas of your home/property you should winterize to save money.#1: Check seals on doors & windowsIf the heated air is escaping your home through creaky, leaky doors and windows, you’ll be wasting hundreds of dollars heating your home. On the next blustery day, check to see if cold air is blowing in by holding your hand next to windows and doors. If you do find a drafty door, try an inexpensive fix – those sand-filled, fabric-covered draft stoppers for doors leading in and out of the house. For windows, check to be certain that they are properly closed and, and if you have them, that storm windows are in properly. Thick drapes are also helpful at nighttime, but during the day, be sure they’re open for windows that get direct sunlight.#2: Check the chimneyBe sure your fireplace damper is closed when there is no fire lighted. Think of it this way: Leaving the damper open is like keeping a 4- by -4-inch window wide open, thus allowing that precious warm air (and the hard-earned money it took to heat your home) to go right up the chimney. In addition, check the seal on the flue damper to be certain it’s as snug as possible. If you never use your fireplace, then go ahead and plug/seal the chimney flue. There’s no sense in losing heat from something you never use.#3: Care for your heat & waterHave your heating system serviced and be sure that anything on your heating system that is covered under warranty is replaced. Change heating filters and walk through the house to make sure that all heat vents are clear. You don’t want any of your children’s toys melting when you turn the system on for the first time. In addition, changing the filters will also help remove pesky allergens. For the water system, drain sprinkler pipes if you have them. Otherwise, the pipes underground can freeze and break over the winter, costing you money and time next spring. Also, never turn your heat off fully, even if you are going on vacation for a week. Your indoor pipes can freeze and burst, causing an indoor flood. Having a friend drop by to check on your home during winter months if you go away is always a good idea.