The onset of cooler weather may not suit many people. The same goes for your home which reacts to changes in outside climate as well. This is especially true for abrupt transitions between seasons that occur within a couple of days when air temperature can plummet drastically. In regions, such as Australia, these extreme changes take their toll on the infrastructure of the house after several decades. In order not to be unpleasantly surprised and caught off-guard, here are 5 tips to preparing your home this winter.
Anywhere from a third to a half of the heat a home losses is lost through the walls that are improperly insulated. They are your first barrier against extremely low temperatures and should have extra protection. If your walls are solid, then you can use external insulation. The material, the process itself, and the work hours needed do not come cheap, but this investment will pay off in the long run. Be sure to check with your government or the local council, as many organizations run energy efficiency programs. They subsidize the cost of installing insulation. If there are none, commercial banks also offer special energy efficiency loans.
Clearing gutters and chimneys
Another nuisance that winter ushers is rainfall and snowfall. The thing is, all that water has to go somewhere, and if your drainage system is ill-prepared, then your house might turn into a pool. That is why cleaning the drains, gutters, and spouts of any debris or leaves is essential. Snow is especially dangerous when it begins to thaw since it becomes heavy and accumulates on the roof. This also puts extra weight on your house, so the entire roof structure is in danger of collapsing. This goes for chimneys as well, including more modern ventilation shafts. Failure to keep these clean can lead to a serious deterioration in air quality during the winter months when clean air is most needed.
Tending to water pipes
While you’re all warm and fuzzy inside, a water pipe can burst underneath the house, leaving you without running water in the middle of a cold spell. This actually happens quite often, as low temperatures cause metal to shrink. Coupled with the water that freezes in them overnight, pipes soon turn into popsicles that burst when put under stress. This detrimental expanding and shrinking of both plastic and metal piping that leads to bursting can be prevented by installing insulation around the pipes. It is available at the local DIY center and is easily installed.
Protect the floors
Besides the walls and the roof, heat can escape through the floor as well. Preventing the loss of heat from underneath your feet is perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective of all surfaces. Firstly, you can put in thick rugs that will not only insulate the cold floors, but will feel warm when threaded upon barefoot. Actually, floor surfaces such as concrete floors, hardwood floors, and floor tiles are all poor insulators. Even if you don’t decide on rugs, be sure to do something about the flooring. One alternative is installing underfloor heating which can be costly, but it is an investment for the future. After all, that is what the Romans did.
Winter is an awkward season since its chilling temperatures were not meant for the human organism. Just as we cover ourselves with clothes, we should “coat” our house against cold as well. Insulation is crucial, but so is regular maintenance that ensures that all the systems are up and running. A simple visual inspection of the drains and test if the AC will turn on is enough for the start of getting ready for winter.