Winter is here and that means we will be spending more time at home. To ensure a safe and cosy winter, here are our top tips to prepare your home for the chill. Maintaining your home will ensure your home is in good shape throughout the winter months.

Stop the Draft Prevent cold air from entering your home by checking your home's weather-stripping. You'll find weather-stripping and/or caulking usually around windows and entry doors. Look for signs of wear and replace if needed. Consider sealing up your drafty windows with a clear plastic film.

Bring It Inside When the temperature drops, it's time to start bringing in those outside items inside. Plants are a good place to start, but check with your garden supply store for specifics. Clearing garden hoses of water and storing them inside. Outside furniture and other recreational items usually last longer if they aren't exposed to the winter weather.

Don't Be Cool Finding out your central doesn't work properly on the first cold night of the year is not fun for anyone. Go ahead and turn on your heating system and check to see if it appears to heat your home and if needed, bleed radiators - if you hear lots of noises in the radiators when you switch the heating on, chances are, there will be excess air in the pipes. Bleeding any air will also ensure your radiators stay warm. If unsure it is best to have a qualified heating engineer come check your system before it gets cold.

Water Trying To Get In Water will enter your home if your home is not properly sealed and weatherized. Your first line of defence is your roof. Take a good look at your roof from the ground looking for missing or damaged tiles. Looking through a pair of binoculars often helps with this. Next check in your loft looking for signs of water. Remember water usually leaves a mark darker than the item it dried on. It is good to catch these problems while they are small.

Water Trying To Get Out Fall is a good time to check each of the plumbing fixtures in your home to be sure that you don't have any leaks. Remember many times leaks start small and get bigger thereby causing greater damage. Again, check for signs of water where it shouldn't be, all around your home.

Don't Go Up In Smoke or Flames If you use your wood burning fireplace, have it checked by a qualified expert before the winter hits. Be on the safe side and have it checked. While on the subject of fire safety, go ahead and check the operation of and change the battery if needed in each of your homes smoke alarms.

Don't get stuck in the gutter After the autumn leaves have fallen, they can often lie in gutters, blocking drains. Don't forget to clear all your gutters to reduce the risk of flooding in the event of heavy rain. Also if you don't want any overflowing drains spilling out onto your property. Make sure covers fit and if you're not sure, your local council will be able to provide advice.

Don't forget to stay safe and dry this winter!