1. Disconnect your garden hose outside and store it for the winter. Leaving hoses connected to spigots may cause interior water lines to freeze and burst.
2. Store your patio furniture. Why leave it out to get damaged? Some folks are just lazy, others just have too much crap in their garage. But why leave your nice items outside to get damaged by old man winter? Don't even get me started on those folks with too much crap in their garage...
3. Maintain your furnace. We have our heating/cooling company come by each year to maintain our furnace and a/c. Is it a waste? No. Preventative maintenance can identify issues before you have a furnace go kaput in the middle of winter. This past time he found out a piece of our humidifier wasn't working properly and was recalled. He replaced it for free. Also, change your furnace filters!
4. Install storm windows/doors/weatherproofing plastic over windows. We also have energy efficient drapes in two rooms of the house. They are black out curtains that can also keep heat out/in. Love them.
5. Call your local energy company (gas/electric/etc) and get an energy assessment. We did this over the summer and had COMED (Chicago company) come and see where we could cut down costs. We installed all new LED light fixtures, especially outside. You don't have to change lightbulbs with an LED fixture. Why is this cool? In the winter, the temperature fluctuating can affect the life expectancy of these bulbs. So why not just get a new fixture? We did, spent about $20 per fixture, and they should last 10-15 years. NO LIGHTBULB CHANGING!!!
What are some of your tips and tricks for getting your home ready for winter?