Winter seems to happen every year in New Hampshire. With it, you get picturesque views, quiet and cozy nights, skiing, hot cocoa, and all the joys that come with a fresh sheet of perfectly white snow covering the landscape. Winter is wonderful, and many people refuse to live anywhere without a winter, but if you've never had a winter before it can be intimidating.
This video provides a good overview for people who have never experienced winter before.
Want a simple checklist? Check out our Winter Checklist
If you make a habit of doing all of these before winter arrives, you'll be in good shape.
It is strongly advisable to put winter tires on your vehicle before winter arrives. All-weather tires do not perform nearly as well in snow, especially in regards to braking and steering under adverse conditions.
Cold has a tendency to sap the voltage of any older batteries, meaning that batteries that work fine in the summer will sometimes not work well in the winter. Just be aware that you may need to replace the battery early in the winter. If you want to avoid the issue, you can replace it before-hand.
Often, people will experience this issue and a jump will let them get to where they're going, but this won't be a long-term solution. Plan to buy a new battery. Deep Core batteries tend to perform better in this regard. Pay attention to the Cold Cranking Amperage of a battery to get more reliable vehicle starting in the winter.
Sometimes issues with starting can be due to a shot alternator, however this is less likely if it's very early in the winter season and it occurs.
Snow-brush and ice-breakers
You will want to ensure that your vehicle has an ice-breaking snow-brush in it before the first major snowfall. Different varieties are available, however the typical plastic one should suffice for most purposes. Wooden-handled ones have a tendency to fail. Experience will dictate which works best for you and your vehicle.
There is a difference between summer windshield-wipers and winter windshield-wipers. Summer ones will "work" in the winter, but are more likely to be damaged as their internal mechanisms are less protected. Silicone wipers tend to work very well in the winter.
If you are driving to work and your car is heated, expect it to melt snow that falls on it in the parking lot... for an hour or so. After that, the vehicle will cool to the point that water that is accumulated on the windshield will freeze. This often means that your wipers will freeze to the vehicle. To prevent this from being too much of a problem, you can "Stand Up" your wipers so they are not pressed against the windshield.
Roads in New Hampshire get coats of salt and sand in the winter to prevent roads from constantly being covered in ice and to ensure vehicles have decent traction. This can destroy your vehicles frame if not appropriately mitigated. Many products exist to prevent this, but ensure that you coat the bottom of your car with something to prevent it from rusting out.
Road and Walkway Maintenance
Class V and IV roads and bridges are generally maintained by the municipality. Class VI roads may require plowing by private interests. Often, neighbors on such roads will get together and "chip in" for the service.
Home Heating and Winterization
There are several ways to heat your home in the winter.
Woodstoves and fireplaces are the most reliable means of heat, assuming you can do the work necessary to keep the fire going and also have seasoned wood available to burn. No electricity is required, however this won't work if you leave the house for long periods of time. They generally do not respond to thermostats. These can also be used for cooking, as well as humidifying the air of the house by boiling water.
Most propane and oil heat sources require electricity. This means that if you use propane to heat your house in the winter, you are likely to need the grid to be active in order to stay warm. However, they work via thermostate and automatically keep your home at the desired temperature. This means they are suitable to run when you are not home to watch them. Usually these systems work either by heating air put through a heat exchanger (which is then pumped into various rooms of the house), or by heating water which flows through radiators in different parts of the house. You'll want to ensure that you have your fuel topped up before winter arrives. Often, you can buy off-season to get better deals on this.
Electric Resistance Heating
This is an extremely expensive means to heat your house. You can use ceramic heaters that are powered by wall-outlets for certain colder rooms, but it is not advisable that you use this for heating the whole house as it requires an active electrical grid and also costs an incredibly high amount.
This is often a much more cost-effective means of heating your house, but requires an active electrical grid. It also has a tendency to lose efficiency at colder temperatures.
A Pellet Stove is similar to a woodstove in many ways, except instead of burning wood it burns wood pellets. It requires electricity to run the auger usually.
Water pipes have a tendency to freeze at inopportune times in the winter. This can lead to major damage to your house, as frozen pipes can burst and flood your basement or your home. To avoid this, you can insulate the pipes and ensure that the temperature in areas where pipes hang out doesn't dip below freezing temperature if at all avoidable. You can use a variety of products to do this.
If an incredibly cold night is on the way, and you have no means to guarantee that the pipes remain ice-free, you can always run the water at a trickle from some sinks or bath-tubs. This will normally prevent the line from freezing, as the flowing water doesn't have enough time to freeze before it goes down the drain. This is also smart to do if you're ever going to be out of the house for a long time and don't know what weather conditions will exist while you are gone.
You'll want to fill in cracks in your foundation or any drafts to ensure your house remains warmer in the winter.
Most windows will have storm-windows. This is a second layer of windows that are used to protect the house from storms. You'll want to lock the storm windows, and the main windows, closed in colder weather.
To help further insulate windows in the winter, hardware stores sell a plastic covering for the purpose. To use it, simply attach the covering to the interior portion of the window with the included double-sided tape. This works best if you ensure that no air flows from the outside of the house through the window. To ensure that, fill in any cracks and feel for drafts in the window. This should cut down on your heating expenses noticeably and ensure the house is more comfortable. Children and cats have a tendency to spoil these plans, as it is fun to rip the plastic off the windows.
Clothing and Apparel
Dressing for the weather is something you'll get used to doing. People who are climatized to weather in New Hampshire can often be seen blatantly ignoring common sense when it comes to clothing, but this isn't something advisable if you're not familiar with winter. Just because you see some dude with a nice sweater, gym shorts, a felt hat, and flip-flops shoveling their driveway doesn't mean you should follow suit or that this is appropriate winter-wear. They're definitely cold, they just are likely too lazy to put clothes on. They also likely don't care whether they're cold or not.
The most basic advice is to wear loose layers of clothing. The colder it gets, the more loose layers you should wear. The layers trap warm air between them and increase the insulation properties of your overall outfit.
Wool is an incredibly good material for wintertime. It is distinct because it is able to keep one warm even if it gets wet. Other materials, such as cotton, will sap the heat from your bones if you get it wet. This is not the case with wool; wool still is a fairly effective material for insulation even if it is wet. Therefore, if you can get good wool underwear (Often called "Long Johns"), that'll help you stay warm in the winter.
Wool socks are amazing. Try buying them off-season to save money.
You can often wear normal pants, and then cover them with "Snow Pants" if you plan on doing outdoor activity. For regular pants, many manufacturers make fleece-lined pants in addition to their normal sets of pants. These can be wonderful for casual wearing in the winter. Often, when mixing these with wool underwear, you'll over-dress and become too hot, so be aware of the temperatures you're dealing with if you're planning to do this.
Flannel is an excellent winter material. IF you are wearing a long-john shirt, and wear flannel on top of it, you should be fairly toasty in normal indoor temperatures. You may also wish to get a sweater or a hoodie over your normal shirt, depending on the temperatures.
It is generally wise to get a water-tight jacket if you're going to get snowed on, as snow melts and then soaks through your clothing. A thick, winter coat is essential to have on hand.
Depending on the temperatures, there are light-weight winter hats that are available for inexpensive prices, or more expensive winter hats that have better thermal properties. There are also fur hats that often have a tendency to be too warm.
Scarves can be fashionable, however many eschew them as they are functionally equivilant to nooses.
Boots should be water-resistant. Leather boots can be treated with mink oil or wax to improve their water-resistant properties. If your feet get cold, your whole body is going to be cold.
Also, make sure that your boots are not too tight, as this can cut off circulation in your feet and make your feet colder.
Fun Things to Do in the Winter
There's a knack to building snowmen, and it has to do with the type of snow. You're going to want to ensure that the temperature is almost exactly 32 degrees. This is the magic temperature where snow will slightly melt and re-freeze under pressure. The snow should then be somewhat moist due to the sun and ambient temperature, but not so moist that it falls apart in your hand.
Create a snowball by compacting snow. Make it larger until you can roll it. Once you can roll it, it should get bigger on it's own. By putting pressure on snow, it'll slightly melt and re-freeze in a more solid shape. Push it around until you have a fairly large snowball. Put three large snowballs on top of each other and this should serve as a decent snowman.
Put a carrot in the face, and push two sticks on either side. Give him a hat.
Find some fresh snow. Throw yourself backwards into it. Move your arms and legs back and forth to create a snow-angel with wings.
Find somewhere where a snow-plow has moved large amounts of snow into a pile. With a shovel or a sled you can mold part of it into a slick slide.
Find somewhere where a snow plow has moved a large amount of snow into a pile. With a shovel, dig out a tunnel. You can use a thin rod to ensure it's straight, and have two people dig on either side, meeting in the middle. You can also use very cold water, spraying on the sides to reinforce the structure (as it will freeze the snow into pure ice).
If you have a hot tub, you can soak in it, then for fun you can get out, roll around in the snow, then hop back into the hot tub. It's quite a trip.