Our hot summer and mild fall might make it difficult to think about the winter. But the Farmer’s Almanac suggests that we should. Most of the east half the US is projected to more rain, sleet and snow than normal. That means it’s time to think about winterizing your home to prevent heat loss in the cold months to come.

This week’s 15-Minute Fix reviews seven ways to reduce heat loss in your home. Each one is a 15-minute fix—not all of them together. Don’t try to tackle the whole list during a halftime intermission. Break them into separate short projects.

Tips for Reducing Home Heat Loss

  1. Replace air filters in forced air heating systems. Clearing the debris gets warm air from the furnace to you faster and reduces the spread of dust. That will save energy and keep everyone healthier during flu season. Our step-by-step tutorial on changing furnace filters shows you how to do it.
  2. Check heating vents. Floor grates serve as natural traps for dust that builds in the vents in the off months. Peer into the grate for dust bunnies and other build up and remove anything you find.
  3. Wrap the water heater. Insulating blankets for water heaters reduce energy use by 10 percent, which adds up over the course of a long winter. While you’re there, consider turning down the temperature. For every 10 degree drop in temperature, your bill drops up to 5 percent (depending on the water heater’s age and quality).
  4. Cover exposed piping. Start at the water heater and trace the pipes leading away from it, especially if the unit is located in an unfinished or insulated basement. This YouTube video shows what to look for and how to install insulation.
  5. Spot check the exterior. Look for any holes in the foundation or siding. These include cracks, rotten wood and gaps in sealing. Pay close attention to outlets and pipes. Insulation around them tends to shrink and split over time, creating chinks in your winter armor.
  6. Inspect shingles (or tile). Missing or cracked roofing suggests a point of concern. If you see a blemish, it is time to crawl into the attic for a look at the other side.
  7. Check joints. Windows and doors leak the most at their joints, where time and use have loosened the seal. An incense stick is a popular testing tool. Light your favorite scent and hold it next to window and door joints. If the smoke dances, you’ve found a spot that needs attention.