Our heater kicked on for the first time this morning, reminding me that winter is on the way. (Hopefully we’ll get a few weeks of autumn first.) That means it’s time to start getting the house ready for colder weather. This is important if you want a warmer house — without extra high utility bills.

You probably already know all about programmable thermostats. Here are some more simple tips for winterizing your home in a way that can help you save money by reducing utility bills:

Plug the Leaks

Drafts can unexpectedly chill you, while letting warm out into the night. You want to plug the leaks as much as possible. You can locate drafts around windows and doors by lighting a candle and then moving it near the frame. If it flickers, you have a draft. You can use caulk or weather stripping to reduce these leaks. It is also possible to further reduce leaks by getting heavier curtains to cover windows. Also check for leaks around plug outlets. Also, look for leaks in your ducts, and consider getting duct seal.

Change the Filters

You should change your filters in the furnace and throughout the forced air system regularly. Clean filters allow more heat to circulate more easily through your home, reducing your monthly bill. If you want to save more money on filters, you can spend a little more up front for reusable filters. Just make sure you clean the properly on a regular basis.

Insulate Your Water Heater

There are insulating blankets that can help your hot water heater work more efficiently. You should also use some sort of insulator, like polystyrene, on the pipes that connect to your water heater. This will keep the heat in the pipes, rather than leaking away. Your water heater will work less, lasting longer and reducing your bills.

Other Things to Consider

You can also do some bigger things, like switch out your windows or add more insulation to your walls and attic. If your furnace is old, you can switch it out for a newer, more efficient model. Many of the smaller activities, as well as the big activities, are eligible for a green home improvement tax credit, further saving you money as you winterize your home.