6 Things To Do Now To Prepare Your Home For Winter
Use this time before the rigors of winter set in to prepare your house properly, making sure you and your family will be safe, warm, and comfy during the coming chilly months.
Each year winter sneaks up on South
Africans. With such a beautiful summer climate
that lasts months on end, we’re often caught off
guard when the weather suddenly changes, and the
nights start drawing in.
With our properties built for warmer climes, colder weather can see us shivering inside our own homes. Use this time before the rigors of winter set in to prepare your house properly, making sure you and your family will be safe, warm, and comfy during the coming chilly months.
1 Clean your gutter and waterproof your roof
you live in an area with winter rainfall, the
coming autumn weeks will require you to pay
attention to your gutters. Clear the build-up of
falling leaves and other debris to prevent
gutters from getting clogged when the rainy
It’s also a good idea to get your roof inspected for leaks before the wet weather months, advises Alen Ribic, cofounder of SweepSouth, SA’s largest on-demand home services platform. If your area has low winter rainfall, use the coming dry months to waterproof your roof and repair areas that need fixing. “Taking care of any roof repairs or maintenance is vitally important, as any leaks that occur can let in rain and cause support beams to rot as well as create unsightly water stains on ceilings,” he adds.
2 Seal draughty openings
sure your home is well insulated to keep the
heat inside and stop cold winter air from making
its way through any gaps in window frames and
doors. “A draughty house is expensive to heat
and hard to keep cosy,” says Ribic. “Even a
small draught can make a room a lot colder, so
find and seal leaks. If you can see daylight
around a door or window frame, there’s a leak.”
To spot smaller air leaks, especially around windows, hold a lit candle to the area - if the flame flickers, a draught is near. Add inexpensive weather seals to doors to draught-proof them and use acrylic sealant to fill small holes or cracks between window frames and the surrounding walls.
3 Check ceiling insulation
Good insulation reduces
the rate at which heat is lost from a house,
which is significant if you consider that 25
percent of a home’s heat can be lost through the
ceiling. “If an attic or ceiling space is fitted
with insulation, it will
improve its efficiency, saving you money on
heating bills in winter and helping your home
stay cooler in summer by preventing hot air
from coming in,” says Ribic.
A word of caution here - even if you’re an avid DIY-er, this is truly one area where it pays to get a professional in. Not only will they give you advice on what kind of insulation best suits the unique needs of your home, but they’re experts in handling the tricky job of installing ceiling insulation properly. If you have existing roof insulation, now is the time to have it checked for breaks, cracks, tears or other signs of age degradation.
4 Clean your fireplace
There’s nothing as cosy as a warm, crackling fire on a winter’s night -- but before you spark up the first fire, make sure your fireplace and chimney or flue are in good working order. Whether gas, electric, or wood-burning, a poorly maintained fireplace can cause house fires or other dangers. Now is the time to schedule a professional to clean the chimney or flue of soot and any debris. They’ll also check the fireplace is in good working order and address any issues before they become hazardous.
5 Fix outdoor lights
Leaving for work early
or arriving home after sunset? With winter
evenings drawing in earlier and the sun coming
up later, it will probably be dark outside when
you do. Make sure that all outdoor lights are
working so that your house has a well-lit
exterior - a great security feature, especially
on dark winter nights.
“A few solar lights around your property will ensure the exterior stays lit even during load-shedding,” says Ribic. Mount them along walkways to illuminate the route to your car, or on the wall outside your front door - and place the solar panels in a sunny location. If you’re good at DIY, mounting lights will be an easy task, but if you need help, find a trusted professional through an app like SweepSouth’s Connect, which lists reliable and rated professionals, like handymen, electricians, and plumbers in your area.
Swapping out lightweight curtains for heavier curtains insulates a room. You don't even have to change the colour - just the fabric.
6 Quick fixes
fabric “sausage dogs” your gran placed in front
of doors to prevent draughts? Adopt this trick
from previous generations by sewing a long
cylindrical tube-shape out of fabric, then
filling it with dry stuffing like uncooked rice
or lentils. Rest it at the foot of any door that
has a gap beneath it to stop heat from escaping
or cold air coming in. Other quick ways to add
warmth to your home are to swap sheer curtains
for heavier, lined ones, and layer cold floors
with rugs - bare floors contribute significantly
to heat loss.
Do all you can to fix the problems that make your house feel cold during winter, concludes Ribic. “Not only will it greatly contribute to your overall feeling of wellbeing, but because heating home accounts for such a big part of a household’s energy consumption, you’ll be saving money and doing your bit for the planet, too.”