As temperatures continue to drop across most of the country, it’s a good time to focus on a few simple home maintenance projects to protect your home from the cold weather ahead. These projects can be done at little or no cost, and they can help you save money on your energy bills. More importantly, they help enhance and protect one of your biggest investments: your home.

1. Start at the top

Your roof and gutters often take a beating during fall and winter with all of the elements they endure. Inspect your roof for any sagging or uneven areas, which can be signs of damage to the roof deck below the shingles. Then, clear the gutters of any branches, leaves or other debris that could clog downspouts. Water or snow that is left standing on the roof will increase the likelihood of leaking or ice damming, which can damage not only the roof but the interior walls as well.

2. Insulate your ceilings and roof

After inspecting the outside of your roof, it’s time to move inside. Since heat rises, it can escape through any vulnerable areas of your roof. The most efficient way to stop that heat loss is by installing ceiling and roof insulation with an R-value that is recommended for your area. The R-value refers to the ability of any material to resist the passage of heat. You can find the appropriate R-value for your area on the EPA’s ENERGY STAR website.

3. Control the air flow

There are still more ways to keep the warm air inside your home and the cold air and moisture out. Heated air also can escape from gaps that develop where building materials meet. Some of the most common areas include where exterior siding meets windows and doors, around roof and foundation lines, around chimneys and where pipes protrude through walls or roofs. Check those locations to see if any gaps have formed and if so, apply the appropriate caulk or sealant.