Prepare your Home for Winter
Winter is well on its way and with it a change in fashion, appetite and even mood. Scarves and warm, winter jackets are once again on display, hearty soups and stews are back on the menu and our sun-loving nation are looking a little under the weather at the prospect of facing the next few months huddled indoors.
Keep warm and avoid unnecessary expenses by preparing your home in time for the change in season.
Assess the Structure of your Home
First and foremost, assess the structure of your home – this includes the walls, windows, doors, floors and roofs – for any areas that might allow cold air in.
Cold air seeps in through cracks in windows, cavities in walls and underneath doors – places that are not correctly and efficiently insulated or airtight.
To avoid a cold and draughty home, check that windows are chip and crack-free, and where necessary insulate with tape, putty or self-adhesive weather proofing strips. Ensure that all doors are correctly fitted, and consider buying a draught excluder or making one yourself, as an added precaution against the chilly winter winds.
If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, make sure you close the flue when it is not in use to stop the cold coming down the chimney.
Clear drains and gutters of leaves and other debris and ensure that they are working properly. Cracked or badly-fitted piping may lead to leaks that can seriously damage your home and pocket. Preparing for extreme and unpredictable weather conditions will go a far way in protecting your property. Moisture and rain can freeze in the colder months and cause costly damage to your outdoor plumbing system.
Lastly, replace and repair loose, broken or missing roof tiles.
Proper home insulation regulates the temperature in a home, not only keeping it warm in winter but cool in summer too. The new building laws in South Africa require that proper insulation is installed, however older properties may have had ineffective insulation put in and so require an upgrade.
In effect, less money is spent on additional artificial cooling and heating systems when insulation is correctly installed. Insulation is essential in conserving heat and ensuring that it is not lost unnecessarily. Regardless of the initial expense, it’s a sure way to reduce your electricity bill and save in the long term!
Ensure Indoor and Outdoor Heating Systems are in Good Working Order
Be mindful of your outdoor and indoor heating systems, as faulty or incorrectly installed built-in heaters, underfloor heating and swimming pool heaters often use more electricity, and end up costing a small fortune during the winter months when they are used more regularly. Have a thorough look around to guarantee that everything is in good working order, and that those structures that are in need of repairs or replacement are seen to.
Switch to Gas
Gas is economical and energy-efficient, and switching to gas is a practical way to reduce electricity costs and keep yourself and your family warm this winter, regardless of Eskom’s scheduled power cuts. Invest in a good quality gas heater or fireplace.
Alternatively look into other heating solutions such as electric blankets or wall panel heaters for their easy installation, cost-efficiency and general safety.
If you are looking to spend as little as possible, nothing quite compares to this tried-and-tested winter warmer – a thick fleece blanket and a steaming cup of hot chocolate! You can never have to many warm blankets.
Inspect and Insulate the Geyser
Have a professional inspect and, if needed, service your geyser. Insulating the geyser with a geyser blanket/thermal blanket conserves heat energy, reducing electricity usage and ultimately saving costs. Another cost-saving tip is to turn off your geyser during the day when it’s not in use.
Clean and Clear your Garden and Flower Beds
Lastly, prepare your garden for the long, cold winter months by keeping the lawn cut short and the edges neatly trimmed. Plants that aren’t killed off by the drop in temperature and frost are sent into dormancy for the cold season; this means that preparing for winter tends to involve the cleaning up and covering up of your flower beds.
Now is the perfect time to plant spring and summer flowering bulbs as they will take root before the frost sets in. A thick layer of mulch will protect your soil and bulbs, and keep the temperature steady.
Flower beds can be kept looking neat and tidy by clearing dead plants and fallen foliage away.
Keep the winter blues at bay by keeping the cold out and the electricity bill down.
Preparing your home for winter will allow you to enjoy these next few months as they are meant to be enjoyed – snuggled under a blanket with hot chocolate and loved ones within the warmth and safety of your home.