Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is time for home. ~ Edith Sitwell
As the cooler days and nights turn our thoughts from beaches and BBQs to fires and fleece jackets, take some time to consider what your home might need to make the change over to the winter season proficiently and efficiently.
Affordable Mallorca can make a few suggestions and perhaps remind you of some things you’d not thought of doing to help make your home both cost-effective and cosy before the chill sets in! Better yet, ask friends and neighbors to help. Great way to turn a day of winterizing the house into a party - and we are all about Fiestas!
Doors and Windows
If you have older doors and windows, they may not be sealed as tightly as newer ones and they tend to allow draughts in. An easy and inexpensive solution is to place foam or felt weather strips along the joinery to keep the cold outside where it belongs whilst also insulating against heat loss.
If your windows are particularly old, consider looking into replacing them with double-glazed options, just do it slowly over time to keep costs at a minimum. If the frames are good and solid, replacing just the glazing might be considered as a less expensive option (and it means less mess). In the meantime, or for a more inexpensive fix, make use of your curtains and blinds. They shield a tremendous amount of heat from escaping and keep your home looking as cosy as it will feel. And get yourself some draught excluding cushions. They efficiently seal off the gaps below your doors and windows.
Whatever type of heating system you have, they all need a certain amount of yearly maintenance to ensure they are in the best, and most economical, condition.
You can expect a long life out of an electric furnace, 20 years or more, if maintained properly. Yearly check-ups in autumn are required to replace or clean filters. If there is no sign of deterioration or damp, which require the assistance of a service person as it could mean a bigger issue, this can be done by taking the filter out and running the hoover or the garden hose over it to remove excess lint and dust. If the filter needs replacing, this is a good time to do so. Though this can be a DIY job, it is still recommended to have a technician in once a year to service the furnace’s components to ensure you’re not caught out in the depths of winter without heat and to make sure it is running at its best for cost-savings.
Central heat is not as common here, but if you have it, regular filter cleaning is essential to get the most bang for your buck, as is regular cleaning of the outdoor unit to keep it free of debris.
Hot water boilers/heating systems should also be looked at yearly. With regular care, they last 15 years and the regular maintenance often means you can catch small problems before they become expensive big ones. Radiators should be bled in the autumn before using your boiler, a job easily done on your own by simply opening the valves slowly and allowing any air in the system to escape. Make sure you have a bowl or bucket to catch the drippings as they can be significant.
With the season for closed doors and windows upon us, now is the ideal time to check CO² monitors and change the batteries in your smoke detectors. This only puts you back a few euros, and as my 12 year-old says, “Safety first!”
Get your chimney swept once a year, preferably in early autumn before the chill sets in. Cleaning the chimneys at this time of year gets rid of lasts winter’s soot and grime, which could become a fire hazard, and also ensures anything that may have decided to nest in there over the spring and summer has been removed. The chimney cleaner can also seal ductwork on wood-burners to ensure maximum efficiency.
Affordable Mallorca Tip: Whether you live here full-time or have a second-home, remember that temperatures do dip below freezing on certain days in the winter months. Be sure to wrap your pipes and/or drain them if they are on outside walls like in the photograph above. You might be surprised to learn that pipes on the northside of a house get less sunlight and can freeze if left untended.
Gutters and Drains
Clean them! Blocked gutters and drains can cause real trouble when the rain comes. Any avoidable problems that are this easy to fix should be handled without delay. If you want a bit of exercise, do it yourself to save the money (but make sure to use a ladder that's safe).
Critters and creepy crawlies don’t like the cold any more than we do, so to block them from getting inside and nesting for the winter, plug up any cracks, holes and crevices around the house. Remember to look at the attic (if you have one) as it is often where people forget to check and often where infestations begin. All you’ll need is a tube of caulk and some foam gap-sealer and Bob’s your uncle.
And whilst you’re up there, have a look at roof tiles and replace any that are broken before the rains come and turn your bedroom into the rain forest. This can be done inexpensively on your own, as it’s usually not a hard fix to make and replacement tiles can be gotten at bigger hardware stores.
Finally, this is the time to order firewood or pellets, so get your order in and delivered before it gets cold.
There we have it! A few fast and easy ways to prepare your home for winter without breaking the bank. These money-saving projects are not huge time-consumers, and many can be done on your own, even if you aren’t Bob the Builder.
For those not DIY-inclined, we recommend getting a general handyman in to do all these little tasks in one go rather than belabouring it and spreading it out. It’ll cost less for a day job than several little ones over several days, and you’ll know everything on the to-do has been done because you can be there to check each thing off the list!
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By Stephanie Horsman
9 December, 2021