Warm Up For Winter: How To Prepare Your Home For The Cold Weather
The weather’s getting cooler, the days are getting shorter – you don’t need to be Ned Stark to know that winter is coming. If you don’t fancy three months of seeing your own breath and brushing icicles off your nose, you should probably get your house ready to withstand the bitter cold. Here’s how!
Insulate your home to keep the warm air in
If your home isn’t properly insulated already, you should definitely take steps to rectify that before the winter sets in. Ceilings are the easiest places to insulate, and luckily they’re also the most effective. Up to 45 percent of heat is lost through the roof, so just 12 inches of insulation in your attic can make a big difference. It will ensure that warm air doesn’t rise up and escape, and can save you a heck of a lot money on heating bills. Better yet, it has the exact opposite effect in the summer, retaining cool air in and making sure you don’t have to run your air conditioning 24/7. It’s basically just a really, really good idea.
Insulation products come in two main categories – bulk and reflective – so speak to an insulation expert to find out which is right for your space. Bulk insulation also comes in a variety of materials, from glass wool to polyester to wool. If you have people living in the home with allergies or asthma, you should probably use a polyester or wool blend insulation. But no matter which you go with, make sure you install it correctly. Always wear safety glasses, dust mask and gloves when handling insulation, and use a utility knife to cut it to size so you leave no gaps. Even a small space between bales can affect the thermal performance by up to 50 percent.
Seal any cracks to keep draughts out
Cold air is an insidious beast, and will exploit even the tiniest gaps to seep in and cause mischief. Therefore, it’s time to get caulking! Fill in any cracks around your windows, doors, air filters or pipes, and use waterproof caulk if you’re doing it from the outside (you don’t want the rain to strip all your hard work away, after all). You could also try weatherstripping your doors and windows, and fixing gaskets to electrical sockets built into external walls.
Hang some heavy drapes or blinds
It might come as a surprise, but window coverings certainly play their part in keeping out the cold. You should think about replacing your lighter coverings with thicker, heavier blinds or curtains, and they’ll work together with your insulation and seals to keep chilled air outside. Keep them open during the day to let the sunshine in, then close them at night to avoid losing the heat through the glass of your windows.
This is one of the few winter prep methods that actually has some aesthetic value, so feel free to pick out something nice! Metallics are big in 2017, so look for thick curtains with a soft metal tone. Against a neutral background of grey, cream or white, they can create a contemporary statement look. Geometric patterns are also in this season, along with botanical motifs. However, if you want something simpler, just try a new colour. You’d be surprised how much a bright new set of curtains can breathe life into a tired space.
Repair broken roof tiles to keep rain out
Roof tiles are exposed to the elements all year round, this means it’s only too easy for them to crack, break away, or fall out of alignment. Damaged or displaced tiles are more likely to blow off in a storm, and any holes in the tiling can let the rain in. Even small leaks can lead to big problems, such as mould, rotted framing and destroyed insulation. The last thing you want is to be woken up in the middle of the night by icy water dripping onto your nose – or worse, to find your ceiling caving in.
To avoid this happening, make sure you give your roof a full inspection before the colder, wetter months set in. if you find any damage it’s imperative that you repair it. Seal any leaks, and replace any wobbly or broken tiles. If you don’t fancy doing this yourself, you can call in a roofing professional to handle the job – but in either case, get it done.
Clear out your gutters
It’s an easy one to overlook, but a quick clear-out of your gutters could potentially save you heaps of money in repairs. When the air gets cold enough, ice can form on your roof overnight and subsequently melt into the gutters below. If the gutters are already clogged up, the ice can re-freeze and cause an almighty blockage that sends cold water flowing straight back into your home.
Even if you live in warmer climates, winter storms can still see lots of rain flowing through your gutters – and if they’re blocked, the water can’t be funnelled away down the drain. It could back up and flow into your home, causing structural damage, rot and mould. This is expensive to fix, so it’s best not to take any risks.
It’s very easy to clean out your gutters. You just need a ladder, thick gloves, a scooping tool and some plastic garbage bags. Put on the gloves, climb the ladder to reach the gutters, then scoop up any debris that has gathered. It’s likely to just be old leaf litter and sticks blown over from nearby trees, but there may be other rubbish in there too. Drop it all into the rubbish bags, and voila – clean gutters. If you want to be extra thorough, you can also run water through them to properly flush out the downpipes.
Just remember that you will be working at height, and safety should be your top priority. If you don’t know how to use a ladder safely (or simply don’t feel comfortable doing so) call in a professional to help. A handyman should be able to get the job done quickly and relatively cheaply.
Trim tree branches around the house
We get to see some pretty spectacular storms here in Australia, and they wreak enough havoc without you giving them further ammo to throw at your house. This ammo comes in the form of overlong tree branches within smashing distance of your windows and drainpipes, so don’t neglect to trim them before the stormy season really kicks off.
You can cut small branches quite easily with a saw or pruning tool – just make sure to work in manageable sections to avoid the falling wood damaging anything or hurting anyone. However, you should call in a tree surgeon to tackle any major branches. Similarly, you should also call in an expert if you suspect termites, as this can create problems you aren’t prepared for.
There we go! That should keep your home toasty and undamaged throughout the winter. If you’ve got a moment, why not visit our business blog for more useful stuff?