If you’re like most homeowners, you know you should protect your house against weather extremes. But the best time to prep is before things get bad—that means getting to work when your weather is still (relatively) mild. Here’s the year-round list of everything you should do—and when.

1. Insulate—against heat.
Insulation is probably the first thing that springs to mind when you think of winter, but it’s equally important in summer (or year-round, if you live in hot, sunny areas of the country, like the Southwest)—because just as a frosty draft seeps in, so, too, does sticky air. To beat the heat, start at the top: the attic. Before the mercury rises, inspect every nook and cranny to make sure your insulation is installed properly and not letting cool air out. Tip: If you can see the tops of the joists, you need to add a strip of insulation above the existing layer. Consider insulating your attic door as a final barrier to keep your A/C inside—and heating bills low. Also check floors and walls throughout your home for drafts, caulking where necessary. Installing weather strips to doors and windows is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to keep your cool.

2. Combat direct sun.
Wooden decks are easily dried out by intense sun, leading to shrinkage and cracks. Ultraviolet rays also break down wood fibers and lead to discoloration. When finishing—or refinishing—your planks (decks should be redone every other year), be sure to add a UV protectant sealer or stain as your final layer. If using a clear sealer, be sure it contains UV protectant. A stain, on the other hand, is naturally better at blocking the sun. The darker the stain, the better protection it offers your wood.

3. Help your home play defense with the right paint.
Bad weather can wreak havoc on the exterior of your home. Harsh UV rays cause paint to chip, peel, or fade; humid, rainy conditions help mold and mildew take root; and extreme temperatures force your home’s exterior to expand and contract, shortening the life of the paint. Stand up to Mother Nature’s forces with a fresh coat of paint developed for your weather conditions. New Valspar® Reserve ® Extreme Weather Paint + Primer with RainRelief™ Technology protects from intense rain and humidity, Valspar® Reserve Extreme Weather Paint + Primer with SeasonFlex™ Technology protects against hot and cold extremes, and Valspar® Reserve Extreme Weather Paint + Primer with SunStopper™ Technology protects against blazing heat and sun. Bonus: all these formulas cover in one coat, so no matter where you live, you can get the job done faster and easier.

4. Put your mind to the gutter(s).
Fall can be one of the most pleasant weather seasons, but that doesn’t mean you can rest on your leaf piles. You know to rake your lawn, but you also have to clear your gutters of them. This’ll help keep water from freezing inside and splitting them when temps dip below freezing. Adding mesh or leaf guards can also solve the problem. While you’re up there, make sure your gutters are pitched at the right angle—between 1/16 and ⅛ inch per foot—to direct water to the downspout, and away from your home’s roof or foundation.

5. Outsmart the critters.
Just as you’re getting ready to hibernate, so are mice and other rodents—in your warm and cozy home. Before it gets too cold, check the exterior of your house. If light can get through a crack, so can a mouse. Spaces around doors and windows are easy entry points, so be sure they’re sealed. (If you’ve already weatherproofed them, you should be all set. Just be sure weather strips aren’t warped or need replacing.) Search for holes in the interior of your home, too—including common entry points such as behind the sink and dishwasher—and plug up anything bigger than a dime with foam or caulk. Vents, however, are there for a reason. Rather than blocking, place wire netting over them to keep critters out without sacrificing airflow.

6. Appraise the roof.
Before extreme cold hits, get up on the roof to check for damage. Be sure all shingles are properly affixed and check for excessive moss or other natural growths that can warp your roof. Get rid of it using a roof cleaning solution, or call in pros if the problem seems larger than you can handle. Inspect caulking around areas like the chimney, pipes, skylights, and even your satellite dish. If the sealant is cracked or warped, simply recaulk to get ready for cold temperatures.

7. Correct concrete cracks on and around your property.
Water seeping into your driveway, patio, or front walkway is never good. But when cool weather rolls around, the water will freeze, making existing cracks larger and warping your concrete. Prevent this giant tripping hazard by—you guessed it—sealing the cracks. Starting with a clean, dry surface, caulk the cracks with acrylic latex concrete repair and fill in larger holes or chasms with a patching compound. Use a putty knife or other straight edged implement to remove excess materials and keep the surface smooth and flat. Keep foot traffic away for a day; avoid driving over the surface for three days.

8. Become a fan of ceiling fans in cold months.
Fans keep you cool in summertime, but they can also temper frigid air. Just employ one simple trick: Change the rotation of ceiling fans from counterclockwise to clockwise before cold air rolls in. This will push down the warm air in your home, ensuring heat stays where you need it most—and that your heating bills stay low, too.

9. Refresh your home’s “wardrobe.”
If the area you call home is headed into winter, think of it as giving your house a coat, scarf, hat and gloves. Recheck the attic’s insulation as you did before the summer’s heat, fixing any new exposures that have cropped up. Put draft guards under and around exterior doors. And consider a little redecorating. Swapping out gauzy curtains for thicker drapes will help trap heat indoors—the darker the color, the better it works. Open them on sunny afternoons to let warming rays in; close them by sunset to keep cold air out. And adding area rugs to hardwood floors will help insulate them, and keep your toes toasty.

10. Trim the trees around your home.
Warm days bring a new sense of hope—and, sometimes, overgrowth. If you have trees or bushes close to your house, be sure any branches close enough to touch it are trimmed back, and inspect trees for branches that may have been damaged by winter storms. Remove dead or dangling branches to keep them from threatening your roof and gutters. 

11. Seal leaks.
The rainy season is no joke, so be sure your house is good and waterproof. Check your gutters once again to make sure they’re pitched correctly and didn’t suffer any cracks or damage over the winter. As for downspouts, ensure they’re pointing away from your home; otherwise, water will flow directly to the foundation, seeping in and endangering your basement. Don’t forget to inspect your home’s interior as well, looking for signs of water damage on walls and ceilings. If you see any at all, try a simple seal around windows and doors. But continue to trace the problem up to the attic or roof to find the source of entry.

Finally there’s a paint formulated to stand up to the extreme weather where you live. New Valspar® Reserve® Extreme Weather Paint and Primer in three regional, weather-specific formulas: SeasonFlex™, SunStopper™ and RainRelief™ . Find the one for you exclusively at Lowe’s or go to Valsparpaint.com/ExteriorPaint to learn more.