Hire a professional to blowout your sprinklers. This will prevent water from freezing in the lines and blowing sprinkler heads. Pick up a couple foam caps to insulate your hose bibs over winter once the lines have been drained.
Close vents in the winter to protect your pipes and keep rodents out.
Insulating exposed pipes will also help them withstand the cold.
Clean out the gutters of accumulated leaves, dirt and debris before the first winter storm. They prevent the water from draining properly, and the buildup of water will freeze, causing icicles and ice dams. We recommend checking your attic for mold from moisture due to ice dams. Periodically check your roof for ice to make sure snow has a clear path to run off when it melts through the freeze/thaw cycles. It’s much easier to remove if you catch it forming early.
There are many other tips out there for how to improve the energy efficiency of the home, including sealing cracks around windows, reversing ceiling fans and installing door sweeps. But we want to point you towards home appliances that require minimal but regular maintenance to maximize their useful life. Use this time as an annual reminder to change out filters, drain water heaters, etc. Otherwise, these things are often neglected. Doing so will help you avoid costly leaks and detect issues early to minimize damage.
It’s a good idea to drive an AWD or 4x4 vehicle with all season or winter tires in stormy weather. Many tire shops will make the semiannual switch for free if you buy the tires from them. Check the road conditions before traveling for regulations and closures.
Make sure that window scraper/snow brush is in the car, ready to go.
It’s also worth looking in the garage or shed for fluids you may use on a regular basis that you don’t want frozen and relocating them to a climate-controlled environment, like the laundry room.
All the above assumes a consistently occupied residence. Please note there are other highly advisable steps to take if the home is going to be unoccupied when temperatures fall below freezing.