The nights are getting chilly and depending on where you live, you may have already seen snow. Windows that were open all summer letting in a cool breeze are not shut up tight. Winter heating bills loom on the horizon. You can stay warmer and lower those bills by taking a few minutes to properly prepare your home for cold.
Start with the windows doors. Make sure all the windows and doors close snugly. Light a candle and hold it near door and window seams. If the flame moves, you have a draft. Drafts get expensive as the temperatures drop! You may need to install new weatherstripping or caulking, which takes only a little time and is fairly cheap. Draft dodgers, which lay along the bottom of doors, further help keep the cold out and the heat in.
For badly leaking windows, consider installing clear plastic. The plastic adheres over the window and is almost invisible when installed properly. It creates an air pocket of insulation between the glass and room. Insulated curtains are a more expensive but attractive alternative. If your home has storm windows, put them on before it gets too cold!
If you don't use your fireplace it may be letting heat out of your home, even if the flue is closed. Cut a piece of foam board to fit the opening. Slide it over the opening and place a decorative fireplace screen in front of it to camouflage the foam.
Your furnace should be serviced yearly to ensure it's working its best and not wasting energy. At the very least, replace the filters. Also, vacuum the dust from the heat vents throughout the home. Close the vents in rarely used rooms and shut their doors. Just don't do this in rooms with plumbing, or you may experience burst pipes.