As a popular television character and overused meme once famously said, “winter is coming.” And it’s coming to your home. What can you do in defense of your humble abode before grumpy Old Man Winter comes knocking for an extended stay?

There are plenty of ways to prep your home for cooler weather. Take a look at these helpful tips for preparing your home for winter.

1. Don’t let money slip through the cracks

Fall and winter heating bills take a large chunk out of your wallet, accounting for almost half of all energy costs in most homes. Defense is the key to saving energy and money, so fix those cracks, openings, and gaps that are likely to appear around windows, doors, and wherever piping or wires are routed from inside the home to outside. Openings can also cause mold problems that don’t just go away. You’ll want to seal cracks and crevices with weatherstripping and caulk. Be sure to check previous fixes while you’re at it.

Read Related: How To Stop Air Leaks Around Doors & Windows

2. Check your paint

You’ll also want to check exterior walls for peeling or blistered paint, a big indicator that the siding itself is vulnerable to harsh weather which leads to deterioration and expensive future repairs. If this is the case, and you were already thinking about a new color scheme, now is the time to start that coat. Do it before the dry weather start to dampen. While you’re out there, check the gutters. Check them again after the trees have shed their leaves.

Read Related: Cleaning & Maintaining Your Gutters

3. Maintain the yard

Winterize your outdoor furniture and barbecue by covering them up and finding a protected storage area in which they can hibernate until that first still-kind-of-cool-but-good-enough 60-degree day in April. Take your garden hose(s) inside as well, and be sure to shut off water valves when temperatures plummet. For livelier grass come spring, feed it with fertilizer to replace any nutrients that may have been lost over the summer.

Read Related: Winter Lawn Care & Maintenance Tips

4. Inspect your deck

Check the deck for dexterity in case an early freeze sneaks in— you want to be able to put your trust in a sturdy railing if icy slips or falls occur. Don’t forget about those planted pots, either. Empty soil from expensive or cherished planters, as frozen dirt can cause them to crack and break.

Read Related: How To Winterize Your Exterior Faucets

5. Fireplace physical

Get your heating system checked by a licensed heating contractor to ensure optimal efficiency and longevity. Give the woodstove or fireplace a thorough examination as well, paying particular attention to the chimney. Clogged chimneys can start a chimney fire, so get them cleaned by a professional chimney sweep— yes, they actually exist.

Read Related: How To Clean A Sooty Fireplace With Household Items

6. Organize your garage

Don’t neglect the garage, either. Get it organized before you need to shift things around in damp and cold conditions.

Read Related: How To Get Your Messy Garage Under Control

Other maintenance items to check off your list

Minor but often neglected items you’ll also want to check include making sure the smoke and carbon dioxide detectors are charged and working, cleaning humidifiers regularly, and reversing the direction of your ceiling fan so that it redistributes warm air from the ceiling.

While safe and snug inside your perfectly protected home this fall and winter, remember that those birds you’ve been feeding all summer long may not have enough vacation time saved for a southern getaway—keep their homes tidy and full of food!

Top Image Credit: PatriArch Architects

This article originally appeared on the Master Builders Association (MBA) of King and Snohomish Counties.