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Prepping your digs for winter (It's-a-comin'!)

Time to batten-down the hatches, people. Old man winter is waking up from his summer nap and he promises to be as cold, grumpy and biting as he's ever been. This isn't just a bunch of hullabaloo (a word one could imagine old man winter possibly using himself), since projections and even the Old Farmer's Almanac seem pretty certain that this winter will be no joke - especially in the eastern half of the continental U.S. So, now that I've gotten your attention (or possibly ruined your day) with this news, what can you do to ready yourself and your home? Well, I've jotted-down some of the best tips to prep around the house. So, fire-up the hot cocoa, grab a pen and get ready to winterize your digs!

Minds in the gutter: It's one of the quintessential "winterizing" activities that comes to mind if you own a home. (If you're in an apartment or a condo - consider yourself blessed!) While it may not be glamorous, once the majority of leaves have fallen, getting up on a ladder to ensure that your rain gutters are cleared of leaves and debris can be a big help in the long run. This is because if you're in a climate that has any chance of dropping below freezing during the winter, and those gutters and channels aren't cleared, the chance for blockages during the freezing and thawing process can not only yield your gutters useless, but can also become a safety hazard, too. While massive icicles may be beautiful, when they're due to blockages they're more like a ticking timebomb to be anywhere near. Just be sure you're careful when up on the ladder or, better yet, have a "ladder buddy" give you a spot!

A bunch of hot air: Let's be honest, whether you prefer the thermostat blowing tons of hot air or more on the chilly side, no one likes to waste money. This season when hot air and money are used in the same sentence typically we're referring to politics (snap!), but in this case it's no laughing matter. No matter what method you use to heat your abode, with the rising cost of fuel and energy prices, everyone needs to take extra precautions to make sure every degree of heat you pay for is preserved as long as possible.

Drafts: Now's the time to look around your house or apartment for gaps in your door thresholds, window leaks and even ensure that interior curtains are keeping it warm and cozy inside. Draft stoppers are a quick an easy way to stop encroaching cold temperatures.

Air filter: Surprisingly, one of the best ways to prep your home for an efficient winter is to make sure you've got a fresh air filter on your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Making sure that the system is "breathing" well means a more efficient season and less heart palpitations when you get your energy bill.

Winterizing guide: EnergyStar has more great specifics to help you guard your home against ol' man winter, so be sure to check it out!

What methods do you use to get geared-up for the colder months?

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