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.
Here are some of the things you'll need to take care of for winter.
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.
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.