Old man winter is tightening his grip on the area. That means your home better be ready for the bitter cold temperatures or else you should prepare for ice dams or even frozen pipes.

Before any first-time homeowners begin to panic, there are a few things you can do to prepare your home for the harsh winter conditions.

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Check Your Windows

Gaps around the window frames and doors can allow air to leak inside, so make sure the weather stipping is secure. If not, self-sticking weatherstripping is a useful tool for helping windows close more tightly.

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Protect Your Water Lines

Whether your home is an older home or a newer home, you really want to be sure that you’re paying attention to your water lines located in the attic or crawl spaces. First-time homeowners should be aware of areas of their piping that can be exposed to harsh winds and cold temperatures. Water lines in crawl spaces should be wrapped in insulation with heat tape. It’s also important to be sure that the heat tape is plugged in and working. Some crawl spaces have vents that allow air to circulate within the crawl space, so you will want to close these in the winter to protect the water lines from cold drafts.

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Install a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat makes life a little easier by allowing you to set your desired temperature  and then not have to worry about it anymore. In the winter, programmable thermostat allows you to save money on your energy bills. A recent study showed that you can save 1% for every eight hours you set your thermostat down.

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Get Your Faucets Ready

Allow a small trickle of cold water to run from your faucet. This will keep water moving in your pipes, preventing freezing.

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Reset the Humidity Level

Use humidifiers with controls to reset the humidity level based on the outside air temperature. This combination will keep frost from forming as the chosen humidity level will be lowered while outside temperatures fall and be restored to normal during less severe weather.