A Guide To Winter-proofing Your Home
Jason McComiskey, Home Improvement Specialist at Evander, shares his thoughts on the essential preparations you can do to your home to make it as energy efficient and low-maintenance as possible over winter.
Winter is on the horizon, and although we’re not quite there yet, the colder weather has already caused some to put their heating on. Winter can be a dark, chilly time. More extreme, unpredictable weather can be expected in many parts of the country and on the shortest day of the year, which falls in December, it can be pitch dark by 4pm or even earlier depending on where you live.
All of this creates a natural urge to stay at home and cosy up where it’s warm and safe, rather than spend too much time outside battling the elements. While the inside of your home may feel cosy, the outside can be taking a battering with the brunt of the cold, the wind, the rain and the snow.
Some properties will deal with the elemetns relatively well, but others — particularly those more than a decade old — may need some attention in order to improve energy efficiency and prevent future structural damage. Even if your home is relatively new, it’s always wise to perform certain maintenance tasks and keep your eye on key at-risk features.
Doors & Windows
Your doors and windows are an integral part of keeping your home warm, and upgrading yours to more energy efficient alternatives can substantially cut your energy bills.
If your windows are single-glazed, it is worth looking into replacing them with double-glazing if and when you can. Double-glazing is much more energy efficient, and you’re likely to find that your energy bills reduce due to improved heat-retention within the home.
If you already have double-glazing, you should also have well-fitted and robust frames, which are not rotting, warped or damaged, as this can cause problems with the overall seal of the window. If you have condensation within the two panes of glass, this is an indicator that the seal has broken and the double-glazing is no longer working as it should (having condensation on either the outside or inside face of the glass is not an indicator that the double-glazing has failed). In this case, you will need to arrange a replacement of the unit.
Doors and window frames which are insulated provide the best winter protection for your home. Modern uPVC, aluminium, timber and composite options all have a high level of energy efficiency, so if your doors and windows are getting past their best, it may be time to research more up-to-date alternatives.
Insulating your home properly can make a huge difference to how much heat is retained within the building. Your loft space, in particular, should be well insulated. This can be done yourself for a relatively reasonable sum, using rolls of pre-cut insulation available from hardware stores.
Wall insulation can also make a huge difference. Most homes built after the 1930s will have cavity walls, which means the outer walls have two layers with a space in-between. More modern homes will already have insulation filling these spaces, but some may not. Filling your cavity walls with insulation is possible, and you won’t have to move out of your home while works are completed.
Older homes with solid walls are much harder to insulate. This involves building a secondary wall next to the original to create a cavity. This may require planning permission and may not be possible for properties which are protected, so always check with your local authority before taking further steps.
Keeping your home in a well-maintained state is paramount, as certain jobs — if left too long over the winter — can cause more worrisome and expensive problems further down the line. Your gutters, for instance, should be cleaned out regularly, particularly if your property is overlooked by trees or tall foliage. Cleaning them out both before and after the trees have started dropping their leaves will help to prevent a build-up of mulch which can block the flow of water and cause damp issues inside the home.
If you have a log-burner or open fire, make sure that your chimney has been cleaned before you light the first fire of the year, or you may experience a chimney fire. Keeping on top of your fuel supply and ensuring you have enough to heat your home sufficiently is essential if this is your only means of heating.
If your home uses a gas boiler to heat radiators and water, you should have this serviced on a yearly basis. This not only keeps it running smoothly and therefore more efficiently, but it will also ensure your peace of mind over its safety. If you live in rented accommodation, your landlord must, by law, have a gas safety inspection completed each year which will include this boiler check.
Winter-proofing your home is something which can be done all year round, ready for you to reap the rewards when the weather takes a downward turn. To prevent expensive and unexpected issues, keep an eye on the condition of your home and consider taking steps to make it more energy efficient for your comfort, your bank account, and the longevity of your property.