Getting ready for a Rochester, NY winter takes time, planning, and budgeting. We recommend beginning the process well in advance of winter – in summer, in fact.
In Rochester, winter means below-zero temperatures and brisk snow. It often snows so heavily that people use umbrellas to protect themselves as if it rained. Power outages wreak havoc with heating homes and car trunks freeze shut, making it tough to access emergency kits or spare tires stored there.
By starting during summer, you provide yourself with five to six months of preparation time. Since some projects require in-demand professionals, this can mean sitting on a waiting list for months. Let’s consider how to get your house, auto, and wardrobe ready for a Rochester, NY winter.
Summer Is the Perfect Time for Remodeling
Start remodeling jobs that can help you weather a Rochester, NY winter in summer. By starting months in advance, you’ll spend less time on contractor waiting lists and more time on building projects. Contractors remain in demand all year but you’ll find it harder to get a contractor on short notice in winter; they stay busy with emergency calls and projects planned well in advance.
Shop fireplace stores during warmer months, so the design you want doesn’t sell out. Allot at least three days for your fireplace installation.
Depending on the type of fireplace you purchase, you’ll either need a mason or an electrician. Putting in a brick, wood-burning fireplace after home construction requires a master carpenter and a mason. Installing an electric fireplace requires an electrician. Here’s one that surprises people. Gas-burning fireplaces require a licensed plumber.
Plumbers go through training to become gas safety experts while doing their apprenticeships. Make sure you have them handle obtaining the proper permits from the city.
Start other remodeling projects in summer, too. It offers the ideal time to add a room or addition to your home. Get your new family room or media room ready now.
Use triple pane, Low-E windows for the best results in any room. To prepare your whole home for colder weather, replace all the windows. If that won’t fit your budget, examine the windows to determine which allows drafts to enter and replace those.
Do the same with older doors, especially if you own a home with hollow-core doors. Switch them out for solid core doors. Projects around the home’s exterior also require this early start.
Clear Space for Winter Projects During the Summer
You can count on freezing and below-freezing temperatures during a Rochester, NY winter. The ground freezes solid, so if you want to work on construction projects during the winter, do the land clearing and foundation during the summer. The ground remains easy to dig in and excavate during warm weather. For the best results, hire a land clearing contractor to do the work quickly and efficiently.
By completing the clearing and foundation in summer, you have the fall to erect the framing and exterior walls. This provides you with winter to complete interior work. That lets you enjoy toasty warmth while you work.
Choose Your Fuel Type
No Rochester, NY winter would seem complete without at least one power outage. Rather than freezing, plan ahead, looking to the same fuel that runs farm tractors or lighters for help. You could also go the route of Hank from King of the Hill. Choose a backup generator that runs on gas, butane, or propane.
Generators come in various shapes and sizes. Some portable models can only hold the equivalent of one day’s worth of power before you need to recharge them. Others, that you permanently install in your home, or rather, outside it, can run for days and automatically turn on when the regular electricity fails.
These generators use a primary fuel source, then convert it to other power, so you still have electricity, without the electric company. The generator features one or more electrical outlets that let the user plug-in items, such as cell phones or refrigerators.
Although solar generators work quite well, not during winter in Rochester. Solar panels must remain free of debris and require at least partial sunlight to work.
Each type of fuel has its own merits. A petrol or gas generator requires the user to mix a specific grade of motor oil, typically used in lawnmowers, into the gasoline before putting it into the generator. This means you need to purchase two items to run it. The cost of gasoline fluctuates widely, so it could cost you $2 a gallon one year, but $4 a gallon the next year.
The ubiquitous butane, famous as a lighter fluid, also works great as cooking and heating fuel. Safe to use indoors, the fuel comes in canisters that attach to the object receiving power, such as a heater or cooking burner. Some generators use butane as fuel, but not as many use propane or gas. The advantage of this fuel comes from its relatively level price and its ease of purchase.
With propane, which King of the Hill character Hank sells, you also purchase tanks of the gas that attach directly to the generator. Propane generators require a regulator, which the user needs to monitor to ensure proper gas flow.
Like gasoline, the cost of propane fluctuates. Purchasing in bulk when the price drops offer a great way to save money. Many grills also use this fuel, so the large tanks come in handy during summer, too.
Choose your favorite and buy a generator. Store it in a covered area, preferably in a garage when not in use. Get it out once per month for maintenance. Clean it, fuel it, and start it up to make sure everything remains in good working order.
Few homes in northern NY use electricity for heat. Instead, they all plan for a Rochester, NY winter, wherever they’re located. Homeowners in northern NY build homes that use heating oil for the furnace or heat system in an HVAC.
Watch the fuel prices and purchase your fuel when it drops in price. This way, you fill the fuel tank for a much lower cost and reduce your winter bills. You also stay warm and toasty during the harsh winter.
Some homes use propane for power throughout the year, not just to make it through a tough Rochester, NY winter. Instead of a backup generator, these homes use a large propane tank in the yard to feed gas into the home’s pipes. These tanks somewhat resemble the outline of a submarine.
Similar to the advice on heating oil, watch prices and purchase your gas refill when the price drops. Maintaining a full tank during winter protects you since you’ll at least have heat and a way to cook meals.
Another variation of homes built in Rochester uses a wood-burning fireplace or wood-burning stove to heat the home during a snowy Rochester, NY winter.
Rather than purchase your firewood now, schedule your firewood delivery in the summer. With some businesses, this method locks in the summer price. If costs per cord of wood increase during winter, your budget won’t take the hit.
Avoid purchasing firewood during summer to store it long-term. Why? Snakes provide one reason. Snakes love wood piles. They will nest in your wood cord and you find an unhappy surprise when you go out for wood.
Also, store fireplace wood a few yards from the home. Piles of wood also attract rodents. By having wood delivered during winter that you schedule during summer, you avoid these problems. Your wood comes to your home during winter when nothing lives outdoors.
Schedule Regular Fuel Deliveries
Also, prepare for your Rochester, NY winter by scheduling the fuel deliveries during summer. Contact each local heating oil business to find the best price.
Some companies may require a deposit. By scheduling in the summer and paying the deposit, you ensure you rank at the top of the delivery list.
Replace Old Heating Equipment
Did you recently purchase a home in Rochester? Have an HVAC professional inspect all of the heating and cooling equipment. Also, have them or the utility company, conduct an energy audit.
Between the inspection and the energy audit, you’ll uncover all older pieces of equipment that you need to replace and any areas of drafts allowing in unwanted air from outdoors.
Fix these items during summer. Your local heating contractor can help you get your home ready for a tough Rochester, NY winter.
Shopping for HVAC equipment and fireplaces or wood-burning stoves during summer offers you a greater selection of options. Waiting until winter means a shortage of options as people who didn’t prepare in summer desperately buy whatever they can find.
Repair and Maintain Your Furnace or Boiler
If the HVAC pro says your home needs a new boiler or furnace, heed the warning during summer. If you get lucky, your boiler or furnace will only need repairs. Make them during the summer months so you have time to test the heating repairs before you need the heater to work.
Preparing for a Rochester, NY winter requires year-round preparation. That includes seasonal furnace and boiler maintenance. Many HVAC firms offer maintenance packages. These typically include an allowance for small parts, so when they need to replace something, you’re not surprised by a big bill. As part of this maintenance, insulate the home’s water heater.
Consider Switching to Radiant Heat
Finally, one of the best ways to prepare for a Rochester, NY winter remains to switch to radiant heat. Contact local heating companies to learn more about this method of heating a person or object, not the air.
Some homeowners choose to install radiant heat beneath their floors, resulting in warm floors that let the occupants comfortably go barefoot during winter.
Prepping Your Wardrobe for Winter in Rochester
Getting ready for winter in Rochester, NY also requires wardrobe planning. Layering your clothes provides a safer way to dress for inclement weather. This doesn’t mean layering as they show in fashion magazines, but layering for warmth. Shop online during summer to nab great deals on cold weather gear you’ll need. Here’s a quick guide to daily dressing in northern NY winters.
Start with thermal underwear. Layer long johns or a similar garment over them. Pull on a silk or wool top and wool or denim pants. Top it with a sweater. Wear wool socks. It’s not too much to wear two pairs, at least until you arrive at your office or school.
When going outdoors, don a heavy coat that covers you to your knees or ankles, such as a pea coat or duster. Wear thick wool mittens or gloves. Leather provides another glove material alternative. If they feature thermal lining, such as Thinsulate, all the better. Pull on a hat or beanie and wrap a scarf around your neck and over the lower portion of your face.
Go directly to your car. It’s helpful if you own a vehicle that you can start from indoors. Entering a warm vehicle offers more amenities than a cold one.
Preparing Your Vehicle for Rochester Winters
Finally, prepare your vehicle during summer by putting it through the manufacturer’s routine maintenance and more than that if you drive it frequently, especially long distances.
Build an emergency kit for your auto. Many home improvement stores sell full kits. Add to the kit any medications you take, a blanket, and a portable generator that you can pre-charge. Also, include a folding snow shovel.
Since trunks frequently freeze shut during winter up north, toward the end of fall, move this emergency kit to your vehicle’s back seat or frunk. As long as you can access it without needing to exit the vehicle, you have it in the right place.
Remain Ready for Winter
Use this quick guide to ready yourself, your home, and your vehicle for winter in Rochester, NY. Don’t leave yourself stranded at home or in your auto without heat, electricity, and the other necessities of life. Prepare during summer.