You probably haven’t gotten your first blast of freezing weather yet, but winter is right around the corner. You wouldn’t go outside without a warm coat in December, so don’t leave your house defenseless against the elements, either!

Here are five ways to prep your house for winter:

Insulate Your Hot Water Heater

For a lot of homes, the hot water heater is one of the biggest energy users in the house. This is especially true if your heater is located in a non-insulated room like the garage. Just think how much harder your heater has to work to deliver those piping hot showers if it’s sitting in a 30 degree room! Consider adding an insulating blanket over your heater to maximize its efficiency this winter. For more ways to save energy and money, read: Inspect and Maintain Your Water Heater.

Bundle Up Your Attic and Crawlspaces

Gaps and holes in your insulation are similar to having gaps and holes in your coat. They kind of defeat the purpose. By repairing your insulation, you can save more than 20 percent on your utility bills this winter. To learn how, read: Inspect and Repair Your Insulation.

Protect Your Pipes

 When water freezes, it expands. If it’s inside a pipe when it expands, the water breaks the pipe and leaves you with a gargantuan repair bill. To prevent this, shut down your sprinkler system and hose spigots before the first big freeze of the year. To protect your indoor pipes, be sure to never set your thermostat below 55 degrees F (even if you’re going out of town for an extended period of time).

Schedule a Checkup for Your Furnace

We’re entering the prime furnace-usage season, so if there’s a problem, you want to take care of it now, not when it’s 10 degrees outside. Schedule a routine checkup for your furnace to make sure everything is kosher.

Perfect a Warm Drink

Now that your house is prepped for the cold, it’s time to get your winter libation figured out. If hot chocolate is your thing, nothing beats this indulgent Mexican hot chocolate recipe from Babble. For an adult version of the winter beverage, try this hot toddy from Tyler Florence.

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