Yes, you heard that recent forecast right - possibility of snow flurries for the Twin Cities.  Some parts of Minnesota have already seen snowfall, so you might be digging out the boots and mittens to get ready.  But is your home ready for the cold season?  Here are some of the most popular home improvement and maintenance projects for fall.
  • Have your furnace checked; many furnace companies run fall inspection specials.
  • Get a home inspection if you haven't had one.  This is a good way to catch potential problems before they cause damage or emergency repairs.  Winter repairs can be extremely expensive, not to mention inconvenient, so your peace of mind could be worth the cost of the inspection.  Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations for a reputable inspector.
  • Check your chimney.  Birds sometimes like to nest in chimneys, so make sure yours is clear before lighting your fireplace and furnace.  A professional cleaning will cost around $200, but some homeowners prefer do their own.  Be forewarned that it is a messy job.
  • Check windows and doors.  Replace worn weatherstripping and cracked caulk as needed. Replace any cracked or damaged trim.  If your rooms are especially drafty in the winter, it might be a good idea to consider replacement windows before it gets too cold.
  • Add a programmable thermostat.  This is one of the most inexpensive things you can do to cut your energy use.  Program your home temperatures to match your life-style.  Why keep the heat up when you're not home?  If you already have a programmable thermostat, check the settings and adjust as needed for winter. 
  • Winterize your pipes.  Any pipes on exterior walls should be insulated to prevent freezing.  It can be expensive to hire a professional, but this is one thing most DIY'ers can handle themselves.  Your local hardware or home improvement store should have a variety of products.
  • Gutter clean-out.  Here is one project that can save you hundreds, or even thousands.  Clogged gutters can cause safety issues with possible roof leaks and roof damage.  A pair of work gloves, a trowel, a ladder, and a hose are all you need.
  • Stow away hoses, lawn furniture, planters, etc.  This is one project that costs nothing except time, and prevents winter damage to a number of items.  Drain your hoses before storing them.  If you can't store lawn furniture and grills inside, at least cover them securely with waterproof tarps or specialized coverings.
  • Paint and stain touch-ups. Worn sections need to be protected prior to winter.  Pay special attention to the exterior side of your entry doors.
Your home is probably the largest investment you'll ever make.  Take some time now before winter to make sure your home is ready for the cold.