Clean gutters and downspouts. Leaves and debris gather in gutters, which can cause ice dams and other water damage when snow falls and then melts, or during rainstorms. This is an easy task to do yourself if you can climb a ladder safely.
Remove leaves. Not only do you want the leaves out of your gutters, you want them off your roof and off your lawn. Despite what some may believe, letting leaves decay on your lawn does not provide fertilizer.
Repair any damage to your roof. Anywhere you had shingle damage, that needs to be fixed and replaced. If water can get under your shingles, it can get into your home and cause damage.
Clean your chimney. Have a chimney sweep come in every year to check your fireplace for safety and clean out the remains of last year's fires. "If you use your fireplace regularly with wood, you've got to get that soot out of there," Ingram says. You also want to make sure that the cover to your chimney is intact and that birds or other critters haven't chosen to move in, Sassano says.
Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. It's smart to test the devices and replace the batteries every six months, making this a chore for fall and spring. Also, make sure you have enough fire extinguishers and that they are in the right place.
Change filters in heating and air conditioning units. Most forced-air systems work better when the filters are clean. While some filters are advertised to last several months, people with pets or old houses with a lot of dust should change filters monthly.
Repair, add or replace weatherstripping. Good weatherstripping on exterior doors can save energy and help you feel more comfortable in winter. If you can see light from the outside coming in around your doors, it's time for repairs.
Wrap exposed pipes. Pipes in exterior walls or outside can easily freeze during the winter, and wrapping them makes that less likely. "There's nothing more costly than having a pipe burst in your house," Sassano says.
Shut down and drain sprinkler systems. You also want to turn off and drain exterior spigots, plus drain and bring in hoses.
Aerate your lawn. By using a machine to poke holes in your lawn, you help air and water get to the roots. This is best done when the lawn is wet. The process helps it grow back next season. "When it snows and the snow start to melt, the aerated areas help the water get to the root system of your lawn," Ingram says.
Trim trees. Proper trimming keeps trees healthy, and you should hire someone for the job who knows what he or she is doing. In cold climates, you want to keep weak branches that may become weighed down with snow from falling on your house or car. In warmer climates, you want to avoid wind damage.
Change the direction of ceiling fans. Fans are set to run counterclockwise in summer, which creates a cool breeze under the fan. But they should run clockwise in winter. "Heat tends to rise, and you don't want to waste it up at the ceiling level," Sassano says. "You want to bring it back down to where the people are."
Inventory your snow equipment. Make sure your shovels are in good repair, your snow blower is tuned up and you have sand and salt on hand. "It's really just easier to get them now before the stores sell out," Reagan says.
Clean and put away your summer equipment. Now that the warm weather is gone, there's no need for your lawn furniture, barbecue grill and water toys. "It just makes your springtime so much easier," Reagan says.