How to winter-proof your home
PUBLISHED: 13:47 23 February 2017 | UPDATED: 13:47 23 February 2017
Wrap up in woollies, scarf, gloves and hat and you're ready for winter weather, but what about your property? Matthew Craker of Fine and Country estate agents in Brookmans Park gives his tips on improving home insulation
Preparing your home for winter can seem like an unnecessary hassle, but it’s likely that the financial benefits will outweigh the effort you put in. Ensuring your property is adequately prepped can keep heating costs to a minimum, protect your home into the future and make it more appealing to potential buyers if you’re looking at putting it on the market.
Walls & ceilings
As everyone knows, heat rises, so one of the easiest ways to retain heat is to install insulation – such as roof and loft and cavity wall – and check the condition and effectiveness of any insulation installed. If you own an older home, it may have inadequate insulation, meaning heat escapes easily. If you have an attic or loft, make sure that all the loft hatch and holes, such as where plumbing pipes comes into a room below, are covered and sealed.
Windows & doors
Next on the list are windows and doors. According to the Energy Saving Trust, draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save energy – and money – in any type of building. Check for draughts around windows and doors and caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping. Silicone caulk is best for exterior use – it won’t shrink and it’s impervious to the elements. For opening windows, buy draught-proofing strips to stick around the window frame and fill gaps. Floorboard draughts can be addressed by squirting silicone-based filler into the gaps. On windows, thick drapes can also keep heat in, while a few warm throws on the sofa can reduce the need for additional heating.
For exterior doors, if your keyhole is uncovered, purchase a cover – a moveable metal disc covers the keyhole, keeping warmth within and draughts out. Letterboxes can be fitted with a letterbox flap or brush, and if there’s a gap at the bottom of the door, used a brush or hinged-flap draught excluder.
Interior doors need draught-proofing only if they lead to an unheated room. Keep the doors closed and if there is a gap at the bottom of the door, block it with a draught excluder. Remember that some rooms, like bathrooms, need good ventilation, so these doors are best left untouched. Don’t block any wall vents.
If you have fireplaces that are not used, solar energy installer EvoEnergy says this could be costing you hundreds of pounds each year. You can cap a chimney or if you use the fireplace on occasion, blocking the draught with a removeable inflatable chimney balloon. Alternatively, a Perspex fireplace cover seals a functional fireplace when it’s not being used. It costs upwards of £80, but can save far more than its price in reduced heating bills.
Plumbing can also be an issue during winter, with burst pipes a common occurrence. The best way to stop this happening is to keep your pipes warm with foam lagging, which reduces heat loss and insulates pipes to stop them freezing.
Check your radiators are functioning properly too. If they are colder at the top than the bottom, they have trapped air inside that’s stopping heat from circulating correctly. Bleed the radiators to release the air, and they will run more efficiently.
A few final exterior checks are also worthwhile to protect your property. Make sure gutters are free of fallen leaves and grime to minimise water blockage and seeping down walls. And keep trees close to the house trimmed back to reduce foliage fall.
Keeping your home cosy will help to keep your spirits high in the cold, dark months. If your property is on the market, presenting a snug, energy-efficient home is a good selling point. If you’re viewing properties, check whether these simple fixes are in place, showing a cared-for home.