Winter is around the corner. Judging from personal experience, it should be a cold one due to the amount of rain we received. Although our winters are not as harsh compared to Europe and USA, it might be worth your while to prepare your home this winter. My reasoning behind this stems from a conversation which I had with an American couple who paid a visit to South Africa a couple of years back, during wintertime. Their stay was not a pleasant one due to the fact that we don’t have central heating in our homes in South Africa. We depend on our warm winter’s days to warm up our north facing homes and for most of the time this would be sufficient. It is however a different story when we are subjected to numerous cold fronts and unexpected rain or snow during wintertime.
Here are some tips how to prepare your home this winter:
Prepare your pipes for the cold
During wintertime, some pipes may freeze. Most pipes are filled with water and whenever water freezes it expands which may lead to a burst pipe. Make sure to isolate pipes that are exposed to colder areas of your home. Pipes that face to the south of your home are more likely to burst due to the fact that they will not be exposed to natural sunlight during wintertime. Be sure to disconnect your garden hose as well and drain it properly before putting it into storage.
Check your chimney and fireplace
For those who are fortunate enough to have a fireplace, it might be an innovative idea to confirm that it is functioning well after the summer months. Ensure that the chimney is not blocked and that there is a good draught between the actual fireplace and the chimney. Stock up with enough wood, coal or anthracite. To homeowners who have gas operated fireplaces it might be a promising idea to stock up on gas as the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine may cause a steady rise in gas prices during the months to come.
Load shedding kit
During the past couple of weeks, we have once more experienced load shedding with the compliments of Eskom. If this is an indication of what we can experience this winter, you might as well be prepared for those outages. They can be extremely uncomfortable during winter months. If you have the financial ability, it is advisable to purchase a generator. Your local supplier would be able to advise you to make the right purchase to suit your needs.
If you are running a tight budget, consider acquiring the following items to make your life a little more comfortable during load shedding:
- A portable gas operated stove;
- Torches and other battery operated lights;
- Additional batteries;
- Fully charged power banks;
- Bottled water;
- Additional blankets; and
- Canned food;
Get a “blanket” for your geyser
Electrically operated geysers are electricity guzzlers. You can however improve your geyser’s energy efficiency by installing a geyser blanket and insulating water pipes. This should definitely reduce the electricity bill. Most modern geysers benefit from a good insulation. The geyser blanket is a cloth that is used to snuggle the geyser and to reduce its negative impact on your electricity usage. The geyser blanket consists of a polyester fibre insulation material, laminated with a reflective foil facing. The water temperature of a geyser decreases by 1ºC every hour. Therefore, energy is used up to preserve the warmth of the geyser.
Find out if any heat is escaping from your home
It might be a clever idea to ensure that no hot generated air leaves your home through unwanted cracks around windows and doors as well as through poorly isolated pipes. This could save you a lot of money if one considers the excessive costs accompanied by heat generation. Apart from windows and doors, popular areas to check would be gaps in walls near plumbing fixtures. As warm air rises, it would be advisable to isolate ceilings to prevent warm air from escaping through the roof. Check ceiling cornices for gaps between walls and cornices and fill these gaps with foam sealant.
Trim trees and rake the garden
Trees with large branches or lots of leaves can become a problem during winter. Take the time out during autumn to inspect your garden for both of these issues. Large branches, especially ones that hang over or near the house or driveway, may collapse and cause damage. The wind can cause any old or flimsy branches to snap off too. It is best to get out there on a ladder and remove all of these before the season changes.
Check your home and especially your paved areas and driveways for cracks. Leaving these cracks unattended can cause more damage to your home in winter than you can imagine. Cracks can accumulate icy water which can cause the crack to expand as water does when it turns into ice. Prevention is always better than cure and rather fix the problem during summer or autumn before the cold really sets in.
As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do when performing winter home maintenance to protect yourself from a harsh winter. Since you won’t be spending too much time outdoors, use winter to focus on your indoor projects. Painting, building shelves, etc. Now is the time to get going with those!