5 Things to Remember When Preparing Your Home for Winter
Winter can get us all a bit down-in-the-dumps. After the constant hustle and bustle of a twinkling December, the long darkness of January and February can seem drawn-out. It’s easy to bury our heads in the sand (preferably the white soft sands of a warm and sunny beach somewhere tropical!) and refuse to think about winter until it’s upon us.
It’s much easier to face the season with a smile on your face. If you’ve done a few bits of planning to speed the season along, it will allow you to enjoy those quiet, cold nights wrapped up indoors or on a bracing walk in the frosty air. Keeping ourselves healthy goes hand-in-hand with having a hassle-free winter period. Minimising the fuss with a bit of preparation is also a great way to shrug off any undue stress and strain.
Read on for our five top tips on preparing your home for winter:
Prepare outside before moving inside
When you know that you’ll be spending more time inside for the next few months, it’s best to make sure the outside is in a state to happily survive the cold. First off, look to the exterior of your home and any outbuildings. Are any gutters clogged? Gutters and downspouts filled with fallen Autumnal leaves are a primary cause of ice dams. Overflowing gutters can send water coursing down the front of your building’s facade to permeate your house via weak spots.
Equally, we know that water expands as it freezes, so make sure to empty and disconnect any hoses, sprinklers and outdoor taps to stop them from freezing and the pipes rupturing. In a similar vein, provide insulation to any water pipes which run through unheated areas (such as a cold cellar, attic or garage). It’s a great idea to know where your water shutoff valve (otherwise known as a stop cock or stop valve) is too so that, in case of any emergency, you can immediately halt the progress of damage. The inside stop switch is often under the sink. The outdoor one technically belongs to your water provider - so make sure to ask them for permission to touch it, even in an emergency.
Another good thing to do in the darker, colder weather when you aren’t outside is planning what plants you wish to liven up your space next summer. Working out what plants to plant where can keep your imagination stoked through a long season of winter!
Prepare for the worst
Power cuts are more prevalent in those stormy, windy months, so make sure you know where the torch is (as well as maybe a candle or two!) to see out a long dark night. Similarly, work out what is attached to what system in your house - if your heating and cooking rely on electric, do you have any other way to heat some food, for example? If you rely on an oil AGA, do you have a microwave for a quick solution if you stumble into problems?
Prepare your house to be warm
Automated heating solutions are a great idea (it’s amazing when you can crank the heat from your smartphone on the way home!). But, if your heating doesn’t function remotely, make sure to pre-empt any cold snaps. Always have a minimum temperature set, even if you’re leaving the property for a certain period. Letting the temperature fall too far encourages damp and the threat of frozen pipes will cost you much more than setting the thermostat to come on when it gets very cold.
Is your attic a constant drain on your heating? If heat is just rising and escaping, you’re literally burning money, as well as doing the environment a good bit of unnecessary harm. If you’re considering sorting the insulation out - there’s no time like the present!
Warm is also how things look and feel (once you’ve got the actual physical heat sorted out)! Get out your rugs and throws, extra cushions for the sofa, and some candles - that sense of ‘hygge’ on a cold night is enough to have you yearning to snuggle up inside.
Make sure you’re insured
It seems obvious, but natural forces are often more dangerous over winter - whether that’s the cold freezing your pipes, a tree being brought down or a flood in your cellar. Check your policy (make sure what comes under ‘Act of God’ and what you will actually be covered for) and see that it suits any predicaments likely (or not very likely) to affect you and your home.
Clean up, clear up
It’s easy to leave things outside all summer long when you know you’ll return to that trowel, and sit on the outdoor seating, the next day. When you know you’re going inside for the foreseeable future make sure everything is clean, safe, and tidy. Make sure you put any outdoor furniture undercover (in a shed, or under waterproof throws) to keep the worst of the weather off. Take a clean rag to all your tools to prevent the deterioration and rust caused by soil clinging to blades. Service any gas-powered equipment like mowers and strimmers and drain all fuel from any of your gardening tools (try to use it up during the last mow, or strim, or hedge trim, of the summer).
Petrol and diesel can degrade over time and do damage when sat inside your tools for prolonged periods. Store them safely away from the weather. If that’s in a shed, make sure that your shed is locked up and secure.
With these simple tips, you can look forward to snuggling up indoors with peace of mind as the weather turns colder. And with that, it’s time to enjoy all the wonderful things winter does have to offer - hot cocoa, wonderful baked goods and, of course, the seasonal cheer brought on by friends and family.