To capitalise on a popular phrase – winter is coming – and it’s good to be prepared! We’ve been beavering away getting our old house ready for winter.
If you are looking to do the same, here are ten easy ideas for you on how to get your home ready for the cold months ahead.
Seal Up The Cracks
Cracks and gaps can let in a tremendous amount of cold air, and likewise can suck warm air out of your home.
Our backdoor is the original wooden door that was installed when our house was built 100 years ago. Over the years it has been sanded down and sanded down to the point where there are some pretty big gaps where the cold wind just howls through. When funds allow we will replace the door. For now I opt for the budget friendly option of sealing the gaps as best we can.
A couple of years ago I bought some draught proofing strips from eBay, which really stopped the cold wind coming through. Sadly, over the summer, when the back door was constantly open my cheeky toddler peeled all the strips off, so draught proofing is on the top of my winterise my home to do list! Hopefully by next summer we’ll be over this peeling strips stage, and won’t need to replace the strips until we replace the door.
We also noticed the key hole let in a lot of cold air, so we opted for the very budget friendly method of gaffer taping the key hole on the outside of the door (we only use the door to access the garden, not to gain access to our house). There are prettier, more practical options out there online and in your local DIY store if you’re in a similar position.
Insulate Your Garden Tap
Got a garden tap? Before the first frost it’s a good idea to shut the water supply off to your garden tap, if you can, to avoid the pipe freezing and potentially bursting. If you can’t shut the water supply off to the tap then you can insulate the garden tap.
For insulating the garden tap we go down the cheap and cheerful route of recycling bubble wrap that comes in to our house. Wrapping a thick layer of bubble wrap over the tap and securing it with tape has done the trick for us at zero cost. Again, if you’re looking for a more attractive finish then there are products you can buy that do the same job.
Order Fire Wood
If you have a wood burning stove then now is a good time to stock up on fire wood. We got our first delivery of the season last week and I have come to appreciate that there are few things as satisfying as a fully stocked wood shed. Stacking the wood shed – not so satisfying.
Get Your Chimney Swept
Getting your chimney swept is a really good idea to help keep a good draw on your chimney, and to help avoid chimney fires.
We use a professional chimney sweeping service once a year, and surprisingly there is zero mess involved. A man comes with an industrial vacuum cleaner, pops a sheet down, and sticks various brushes up the chimney until all the debris is cleared. The job is done in about 45 minutes, and he even gives us a certificate for our home insurance company. Some insurance companies can refuse to pay out in the event of a fire if you have a functioning fire but don’t regularly clean it so this is a reassuring touch.
Clear Your Gutters
Clearing your gutters is an oddly satisfying job – it’s always surprising the amount of moss, leaves and other debris that can gather in there. If your gutter blocs and overflows it can cause leaks in your home and other untold damage
Repairing Cracks in the Mortar
Cracks in the mortar can let dampness and cold in. Not only that, pre-existing cracks can be made a lot worse if water gets in and then freezes. Needless to say it’s a good idea to spent an hour or two repairing any cracks. We did this ourselves this year – we bought a mortar repair kit from the hardware shop, followed the mixing instructions and went for it. As a handy tip – it’s a good idea to have a pair of latex or rubber gloves on to help apply the mortar neatly.
Get Your Boiler Serviced
Winter is a busy season for boiler repair tradespeople. We got ours serviced early on in this month to beat the rush, so I’d recommend booking in a service ASAP. A service can allow you to diagnose faults and get them repaired before your boiler breaks, and to keep it in tip top running condition over winter.
If your boiler is on it’s last legs it might be wise replacing it sooner rather than later, to avoid being left without heating or hot water over the coldest part of the year. If the idea of getting multiple tradespeople out to give you quotes gives you the fear, then you can compare central heating costs online.
Bleed Your Radiators
Bleeding your radiators might be one of those tasks that you always relegate to the bottom of your to-do list but it’s a pretty important one. Here’s a quick video guide on how to bleed radiators if you haven’t done it before.
Line The Back of Your Radiators
Walls are pretty good at absorbing heat, but the thing is you want that heat going into your room, not the walls. To prevent this you can buy radiator lining foil that you cut to size, and place down the back of your radiator. You can see it once it’s in place, but it helps reflect the heat from your radiators into your room rather than being absorbed into the wall. The foil is pretty cheap from any DIY store, and soon pays for itself in the form of lower gas bills.
Wash Your Windows
In autumn I like to give my windows a good wash, inside and out, to help maximise solar gain. Dirty windows significantly lower the amount of light that fills your room on winter days so keeping your windows clean is a good step to let as much light as possible in.
What do you do to get your home ready for winter? Any winterising tips I’ve missed?