Joanne Ly - 19 Jun, 2020

Get your house ready for winter

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We’re now in the start of winter, and there’s no better sanctuary against the weather than your home. Homes provide a dry and warm environment against the wet season, especially when temperatures drop to single digits. Winter is also a time where problems in the home often flare up; taking a closer look and winter proofing your house is essential to staying toasty and avoiding expensive repair bills.

Here are some steps on how to keep your home winter-proofed and warm as you bundle up during winter.

1. Seal your windows and doors

One of the first steps to ensuring your home stays warm is to cover all the cracks on your windows and doors. It may not seem like there are any at first, but you might notice tiny cracks at a closer glance! These cracks allow heat to escape and winds to come into your home. Adding a seal around doors and windows will keep you warmer and heat up your home efficiently – saving money on your next heating bill.

man sealing windows

2. Ensure you have proper insulation

Check your insulation when winter-proofing your home, especially those in the ceiling and floor. Insulation can wear down over time. Harsh weather conditions, pests in the walls or simply just time can break down the materials, making it less effective in the long run. If you don’t replace your home’s insulation, it may become more expensive to heat your home over the winter.

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3. Check and clear the gutters

Blockages are common when gutters start to build up with leaves and other rubbish. Downpipes need to work effectively to avoid blockages and a leaky roof. Cleaning your gutters in a single storey home can be a DIY job, however you should consider having a professional gutter repair service for two or more storey homes. Professional gutters can look for areas to repair and replace whilst cleaning, which can further help your home withstand heavy storms.

4. Prune and trim trees that can have a risk of breaking off during storms

Storms can bring heavy rains during winter, so it’s important to identify any loose branches that could potentially snap off and damage your home in case of extreme weather. If you can’t do it yourself, you can always get a gardener to come inspect any trees that could be at risk.

Man trimming trees with chainsaw

5. Clean your fireplace

If you have a fireplace in your home, consider getting a professional inspection of your flue. Fireplaces that aren’t cleaned regularly have a build up of soot and ash byproducts that can potentially be toxic if inhaled. Over the summer months when your fireplace is not in use, your flue can also attract pests like mice and birds, causing blockages. Regular cleaning will also ensure that there are no structural concerns upon inspection.

6. Moulding in winter

Mould becomes a problem during the winter months as they love wet environments. The cause of mould isn’t because of the coldness outside, but rather because your house will be heated. The combination of moisture and warmth is the perfect recipe for mould. Homemade remedies like vinegar and water can help get rid of mould you can see. But mould generally means water is finding its way into your home through a leakage. If you don’t fix the source, the mould will always come back. A dehumidifier can also be something to invest in if your house is too humid.

7. Invest in warm rugs

Floors account for approximately 10-20% of heat loss when they aren’t insulated. If your home has tiles and floorboards, chances are they’re not going to be winter-friendly. An effective way to winterproof your floors is to buy some rugs. Not only do they help retain heat and instantly add warmth, they also feel great under your feet. A woolly sheepskin rug, for instance, will provide insulation through its natural fibres.

dog keeping warm on a rug

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8. Clean your air conditioning

To reduce your energy bills and ensure your air conditioning unit is in optimal condition, it’s important to keep your air filters clean through the winter season. If your home is prone to dust and pet hair, it’s essential to clean your filters once or twice during the winter. Not only is this hygienic, but it will also make air flow better within the house.

9. Try using door snakes for doors inside

An inexpensive option to winter proof your home are door snakes which can be picked up from your local hardware store. These can come in handy especially if you only stay in one or two rooms at a time. Door snakes come in all different shapes and sizes and stop cold drafts coming in from both sides of the door. If you have a portable heater running in a room, this can trap the heat to where you want it.

10. Use a thermostat to regulate your heating

Thermostats work to maintain the preferred temperature in a heating system. In winter, use the thermostat on a timer to switch the heating on earlier rather than turning it up in short increments to warm your house. You can also buy smart thermostats that can be turned on remotely and switched off via an app.

11. Invest in double or triple glazed windows

Windows play a big role in the heating and cooling of a home. According to the government’s YourHome website, “up to 40% of a home’s heating energy can be lost and up to 87% of its heat gained through windows.” Improving your windows thermal performance will not only reduce the transference of hot and cold, but it will reduce energy costs and greenhouse emissions.

12. Go for thicker window coverings

Although sheer curtains are a good look during the summer, they aren’t as effective at keeping the cold air out. In winter, opting for thick window coverings, such as curtains to the floor, are a great option to keep the cold air outside and the hot air inside.

living room with long curtains

13. Put up storm windows

Many older homes have storm windows that act as a further extra layer of protection to windows, making it more difficult for air to pass in and out. If you don’t have any storm windows, you can easily make one with plastic sheeting around your windows. There are also kits available from your local hardware store to cover windows with.

14. Do roof repairs before winter hits

Winter proofing your home on the outside is just as important as on the inside. In winter, roofs are especially vulnerable to damage due to strong winds and storms. If your roof needs work done coming into winter, have it repaired as soon as possible to prevent any further structural damage. With roof repairs or replacements, you can also think about other insulating materials to add all in one go.

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15. Turn your fan in reverse

Did you know ceiling fans also work in the winter? Most ceiling fan models have a reverse switch to make the blades turn anti-clockwise. It won’t work to heat your home per se, but ceiling fans can be used to push all the warm air in the room back down towards the floor, since hot air rises to the top. It’s easy, efficient and helps you make the most of your heating system.

16. Inspect your water pipes

The water pipes in your home can become a problem when they freeze, get blocked or bust because of the cold weather. Checking that they aren’t cracked or split in any way can prevent leakage or any possible water damage to your home. You can also add insulation to your water pipes by purchasing pipe jackets and fitting them to the pipes to be extra cautious.

17. Use a humidifier

Running a humidifier can make your home feel warmer and it’s also good for your health. Winter air dries out your nose and gives you itchy skin. Having a climate of moist air in your home will prevent all of that and stop your body (and furniture) from drying out.

18. Flush your water heater

Sediment and debris can build up in water heaters over time. When there’s a lot of it, it can start to affect the effectiveness of your water heater. To avoid this, flush out your heater just before winter by dumping out all the water that’s currently inside it, including any rubbish that’s currently inside. It’s cheap and quick, and will help maximise your water heater’s performance in the winter.

19. Schedule in an energy audit

Energy audits are offered by many utility companies and are free. This will help examine your home for any energy improvements that may be necessary or helpful during winter. You can schedule an energy audit for any time of the year (however, just before winter kicks in is the most ideal time) and even pay for a comprehensive energy audit which will include detailed recommendations and feedback.

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Words by Joanne Ly

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