How to prepare your home for winter
We love cosy homes and could hug everything hygge. There's a reason why we're borrowing words like hygge (cosy and comfortable) from the Danes, koselig (cosy and intimate) from the Norwegians, and gezellig (cosy, quaint, and in good company) from the Dutch - who can say no to those warm, fuzzy feelings of comfort and togetherness?
While cosy homes start indoors, it's just as important to secure the cosiness to your home from the outdoors too, in case unwanted leaks or draughts come in to find you! Try out these 10 not-so-glamourous, but oh-so-useful tips for keeping everything dry and warm this winter.
These tips are part of something bigger. At Hubbub, we want to see a world where everyone makes choices that are good for the environment. Check out what we do and how your actions add up.
This isn’t the most glamorous job, but you gutter do what you gutter do! Clearing out leaves and debris from gutters and outdoor drains help keep your home safe and will reduce the risk of surface flooding, especially if you live in a basement flat. A blockage can cause water from rain, ice or melting snow to spill over onto your home instead of flowing away from it.
If you use a wood or open fire, try to get the chimney swept every year as it will help clear built-up soot and remove any obstructions (this could be animal nests and even animals themselves!) that may have formed over the year. Blocked chimneys stop air passing through and can keep smoke, pollutants and other harmful gases in the home. Trapped heat in a chimney can spark a flue fire too. A swept chimney lets you roast those chestnuts on an open fire with your mind at ease.
Don't lag behind, get lagging. Insulating your water pipes and tanks, called lagging, prevents heat escaping and keeps your water hot for when it reaches you at the tap. It also reduces the risk of ice forming on pipes and bursting them open in freezing weather.
We've got more on how to spot and fix frozen pipes here.
September is the perfect time to start planting onions, garlic, radishes, or beans so that they’re ready in time for spring. Autumn is also a great time to transform your garden into a wildflower meadow or begin working on an allotment space! Start by getting rid of those pesky weeds and sowing seeds that are native to the UK, such as primrose or lily of the valley.
Don’t have a garden? Balconies and windowsills are great spaces to grow all kinds of plants and herbs too! You can also look around your local area to see if there are any community gardens you can get involved with.
Defrosting your freezer makes it much more efficient and it’ll save you money on your energy bills too! To do this, you’ll need to remove any food (keep this as cold as possible whilst defrosting) and storage trays, and leave your freezer unplugged with the door open whilst the ice inside melts. Make sure you have time to keep replacing old newspapers or towels which can be used to soak up excess water as it defrosts and try to time this job so that you have less food in the freezer, or batch cook lots of your freezer food so that nothing goes to waste.
Take a look around your home for any drafts that could be coming from windows, doors, through post boxes or any gaps in attic openings and cover them with adhesive draught strips, caulk or foam. They may only seem like tiny gaps, but they can make a big difference to the temperature of your home and the efficiency of your heating throughout the winter.
A good indicator of a damaged window seal is if fog or condensation has appeared between the panes of glass. Another sign is if the view outside looks distorted, this could be from gas between glass panes escaping and causing the glass to bend inward.
Clean windows prevent the build-up of pesky dirt particles in the pores of your windows, which can actually reflect some UV light away from your home! So, keeping your windows clean will keep your house sunnier AND warmer.
Did you know that water butts are an incredibly effective way of storing and using rainwater throughout the year? They’re simple to set up and they store water for use in the drier summer months – plus rainwater is packed full of nutrients which are great for your plants, flowers and grass!
Washing machines are prone to build ups of mould and mildew, especially when used at lower temperatures for long periods, which can lead to bad smells and a less efficient machine. Taking the time to wash your washing machine every now and again with warm soapy water, cleaning the filter and the rim of the drum should mean it lasts longer, runs better and saves some energy.
Limescale is a chalky substance that commonly builds up inside kettles, especially in hard water areas. Whilst it’s not dangerous to drink, it can be a little off-putting to find limescale flakes floating in your morning brew, and it can stop your kettle from lasting as long as it should! To clean your kettle, you can use a mild acid such as vinegar, citric acid, or lemon juice and leave it to stand for up to half an hour. This should remove all of the limescale build-up and leave your kettle good as new!
Do a spot check of your roof and walls by scanning from ground level. Look for any problem signs like loose or missing tiles. Cracked, loose or missing pointing on exterior walls might mean unwanted water is dripping or running over it, and is a clue to look for leaks.
Cold and wet weather means many of us have to dry clothes indoors and shut windows to keep in the heat. However, closed windows and washed clothes create a warm, damp atmosphere in the home that mould and mildew thrive in.
Mould can be potentially very dangerous so keep it at bay by opening windows for fresh air. If you dislike bringing in the cold air, open the windows of rooms you're not using, for example, the bedroom windows during the day and living room windows at night. Be quick on the draw to use exhaust fans in bathrooms and extraction fans in kitchens to draw out steam from cooking or hot showers from the air. A dehumidifier is also handy to suck in extra moisture.
It's much easier to prevent mould than it is to remove it, you might be able to tackle a small patch by yourself with mould-killer but larger patches might need professional attention.
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