Summer is shifting into autumn, and that means a change in weather, especially once winter hits. The temperatures will drop, the leaves will fall, and some areas will see ice and snow in the coming months. Don’t wait until the first snowfall to prepare your home for the winter season, as the start of autumn is the best time to jump on home winterizing projects.

Be prepared by following some winter preparation tips that will keep your home safe and energy-efficient, thus saving you time and money in the long run. Having your home inspected for winter readiness is a good idea. While you may be able to check these items yourself, it’s really best to have a professional ensure your home is prepped to face the cold winter months. The insulation in the walls, attic, and basement need to be checked for sufficiency. Insulation may also need to be added around electrical outlets and switch-plates.

If there are any draft areas around doors or windows, caulk or weatherstripping should be added. A contractor can examine the roof and gutters, and a heating and cooling expert can inspect the furnace. Arrange for the chimneys and wood stoves to be cleaned, and don’t forget to test for a tight seal for the flue of each fireplace. There are some weatherproofing checks that you can handle on your own. Although these may seem like small tasks, they can make a big impact on your home when the cold weather rolls in.

Outside your home, disconnect hoses from faucets and ensure the water is turned off. About halfway through the fall season, clean your gutters and downspouts, and recheck them at the end of the season. Check your pipes to see if they’re warm to the touch; if so, insulate the pipes, which can lower the bill for your hot water and decrease the chance of the pipes freezing.

Replace the filter in your furnace. “Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy demand,” says Popular Mechanics. Also, close vents in your home that were opened in the summer. Running fans in a clockwise rotation in the winter can actually make your home warmer. It just takes a simple turn of a switch on the fan and can cut heating costs as much as 10 percent.

Weatherproof windows can make a noticeable difference, especially in older homes. Some windows merely need a bit of caulk or weatherstripping, but older windows should be replaced with energy-efficient, double-pane windows. You may qualify for a federal tax credit that covers 10 percent of the cost of materials, up to $200 for windows and skylights.

If replacing windows isn’t in your budget or your windows are newer, you can purchase a window insulation kit at your local hardware store for just a few dollars. Properly installed window plastic is essentially invisible and adds a buffer against drafts. The extra still air space increases your home’s ability to hold heat. You can save even more by hiring a professional to install a high-tech “low-e” film directly to the window glass.

Taking care of end-of-summer home maintenance helps ensure that your house is equipped for the fall, winter, and early spring weather. From checking insulation to cleaning gutters to reversing your fans, there’s plenty to keep you busy this autumn. Now is the best time to start on these projects, which can save you money and help you and your family remain comfy and cozy during the colder months.