For many parts of the country, winter has more or less already shown its face. Surprisingly enough, the winter season doesn't officially start until Dec. 21, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. While some experts and weather agencies are predicting a relatively mild winter because of El Nino, homeowners shouldn't totally dismiss these predictions.

If anything, the mild temperatures are an ideal time to conduct various home maintenance checks before harsher elements settle in. In the event you need to schedule a home inspection, you'll appreciate not having to stand outside in below-freezing temperatures.

Start with an audit

Take a walk around and outside your house with a pen and notepad. Write down any and all potential problems you see or encounter. It's important to get a general overview of potential areas that will need fixing to help you figure out where to start.

After that, Zillow recommended homeowners contact their local energy providers to locate potential inefficiencies that may have been missed by the naked eye.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, these energy audits are quite beneficial. Homeowners can save anywhere from 5 to 30 percent in yearly energy costs by locating and fixing air drafts.

Invest in smart technology

Smart homes have come a long way since first being discussed. These accessories are no longer a gimmick, as they can help homeowners save money during the colder months. If you're ready to have the ultimate control, consider purchasing and installing a smart thermostat. Homeowners have numerous options to choose from deciding on a smart thermostat.

Here's how it works: After replacing your old thermostat with the smart one, you manually set the temperature at different points throughout the day. By doing so, the thermostat learns your habits and automatically adjusts.

Arrived home from work early? No problem, as you can use your phone to change the temperature to something a bit more comfortable. In all, using a smart thermostat can save homeowners anywhere from 10 to 20 percent on heating bills.

When you combine a smart thermostat with other fixes, such as sealing airdrafts and window cracks, your house will stay at an ideal temperature without wasting any heat.

Don't forget the yard

While going outside is probably one of your least favorite aspects of the winter, you can't forget about shoveling and deicing after snow falls. Clear your sidewalks and porches of snow to prevent accidents, but also to prevent anything from seeping inside, particularly when everything starts to melt.

If your hours is near any trees, you'll want to pay even more attention. Snow that gathers on tree branches isn't harmful until there's too much to handle. Now is the perfect time to take care of an issue before it worsens. While the weather is still relatively warm, clip the branches to prevent heavy amounts of snowfall from piling up.

While snow doesn't sound overly dangerous, in large quantities, it needs to be taken seriously. Valuable items or portions of the house can be seriously damaged if branches snap as a result of the heavy snow.

A useful trick

Taking a shower in the morning can sometimes be far from an ideal experience as you wait for the cold water to warm after it was inactive for hours on end. To prevent wasting water and save on water-heating costs, wrap the water heater with an insulation blanket.

By insulating the water heater, less energy is used. The direct effect is a slimmer monthly bill you have to pay.

Now is the time to take advantage of some maintenance and repairs to ensure your home is properly winterized.