Winter is just around the corner. It's time to make sure your HVAC system is ready for the cold months.

1. Change the Furnace Filter

Before turning on the furnace, make sure it is equipped with a brand new filter. You don't want to recirculate any dust or mold that has collected in the filter since last winter. A clean filter also means a more efficient furnace.

2. Winterize the AC

Make sure your AC is ready for winter so it doesn't suffer any damage. Clean out the inside of the exterior unit and then place a vented AC cover over it so that winter debris doesn't cause damage. Avoid using tarps, though, as these can trap moisture inside the unit.

3. Clean the Heat Exchange Unit

The heat exchanger works best when it is clean and free of dust. Part of your pre-heating tasks must include brushing and vacuuming out this important part of your furnace. This is also a good time to inspect the exchanger for cracks and other types of damage that could impact your home's heating or the safety of the unit.

4. Test Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

Safety is paramount, especially heading into winter when windows are shut and dangerous gasses in the air have no easy way to vent out of your home. A working carbon monoxide detector protects your family from this deadly gas, which can be produced by a malfunctioning furnace or other appliance. Make sure there is a working detector near the furnace, as well as outside of the bedrooms.

5. Open the Vents

Check the vents and registers around your home. Make sure they are all open. Further, move anything, like furniture or drapes, that could be obstructing the vents. The free flow of air is necessary to ensure even heating in the home.

6. Check Your Thermostat

Test your thermostat to make sure it is properly calibrated. You can do this by comparing the temperature against a separate thermometer. If it is off, you will need to have it professionally recalibrated. This could also be a good time to upgrade to a programmable thermostat.

7. Fill Up on Fuel

Finally, for those that use fuel delivery, such as oil or propane, now is the time to make sure your fuel tank is topped off so that you have plenty of fuel to see you through winter.

The single best thing you can do to prepare for the winter season is to call an HVAC service. They can put your AC system to bed and then tuneup and inspect your furnace to ensure a worry-free winter heating season.