This will be my first winter owning a pool in the greater Houston area. I am looking for advice on what needs to be done to prepare the pool for the upcoming winter, and what needs to be done during the winter.
Almost nothing out of the norm. In our areas, winters are mild with the occasional freeze warning. But for the most part, maintain your water chemistry as you do all year. Chlorine use will diminish considerably in Nov - Feb. For those hard freeze warning moments, keep the water moving through the system to prevent freezing. If you are really concerned about a freeze, you can toss a tarp or blanket over the equipment for protection. But the rest is pretty easy.
Hi fellow Houstonian. Everything stated by @Texas Splash is exactly as I do. Definitely if a hard freeze (below 30 deg) is predicted, I lay a tarp over the equipment. The heat of the pump keeps everything nice and warm. I have freeze protection setting on my Jandy automation. I keep that a little high (upper 30's deg) to ensure the pump does turn on before any drop to below freezing.
If you have any water features you may want to consider those as well. Best not to turn them on in a hard freeze assuming majority of the pipe is underground and protected. If not, then wrap any exposed pipe as you would your external faucet.
In recent TS Beta, I drained about 6 inches of pool before the storm came and it filled up close to 8 inches over the 2 day period and I had a drop of at of 10 in CYA as well.
Unless you plan to swim, I see no need to heat your pool. Now it is not a bad idea to run your heater every 4-6 weeks to ensure it starts but just go to the spa, not the pool. You can read the specs for your heater but guess it may take 12-15 hrs to raise your pool water 15-20 degs so it is a costly swim if you do that.