When the chill starts creeping in through the windows and doors, it’s time to get ready for the big freeze. We’ve put together a quick and easy checklist, so you can prepare your home for the cold with confidence.    Inside the Home Indoor preparations focus on two major components: efficiency and warmth. You want to keep as much heat inside the home as you can to use energy more efficiently, which means taking care of leaks and insulation problems. You also want to have the fireplace, heater, wood stove and ventilation system ready to go. Here’s a list to help you get it all done. Fill in cracks around window frames and door frames with caulk. Bob Vila, well-known home improvement guru and host of This Old House, says that this is one of the cheapest and most significant ways you can cut heating costs in winter. Check insulation in attics, garages and basements. If you have a bug or animal problem, you may need to tear out and replace old or chewed up insulation. Make sure any exposed pipes in the attic, basement and garage are properly insulated. Get a check-up for your heating and ventilation system to make sure it’s running as cleanly and efficiently as possible. This can save you a lot of money on utilities. Have a chimney sweep inspect the flue and clean the chimney before starting a fire. There may be bird nests or animals blocking the opening, or a highly flammable buildup of creosote. Either of these can start a chimney fire. Check for cracks and openings in your wood stove. Get a professional to replace compromised glass or crooked vent covers. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Install a carbon monoxide detector, if you have not done so already. Change the batteries on your existing detectors. The winter months are prime time for carbon monoxide accidents. Have a licensed technician inspect your fire sprinkler system, and ensure it is ready for cold weather. Outside the Home To prepare the exterior of the home, you need to focus on protecting it from the elements, especially if you live in a snowy climate. It’s also a good time to start prepping your yard for next spring. Clean out the gutters, spouts and drains around your home. Usually there is a thick accumulation of leaves after fall, and this can cause trouble when you need your roof to shed snow and water quickly. Fill in any cracks in your foundation or driveway with caulk or a patch, to keep moisture out. Inspect the roof for cracks, loose tiles, or other signs of weakness. Get all repairs finished now, before the snow or...