Keeping the chill out

2015-07-29 06:00
PHOTO: supplied
Have a professional check your heating system and chimney, and ensure it’s in good working order before you make use of it.

PHOTO: supplied Have a professional check your heating system and chimney, and ensure it’s in good working order before you make use of it.

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IT’S not too late to get in gear for the chilly season. With a little planning, you can be sure of spending more time curled up, warm and cosy, secure in the knowledge that your house is protected from potential damage while insulated against the chill.

Here are tips to get your house in shape for a happier winter.

Make use of your fireplace

Nothing beats a natural fire, if not for the warmth it provides, then definitely for the ambience it creates.

For those who have a fireplace, check for birds’ nests, any cracks or other damage, and if you have a thatched roof, have the flashing checked.

Using a fireplace isn’t maintenance-free: the ashes from last year should be long gone, and every other year you should have the chimney cleaned professionally.

Cut the draughts

Keeping the house warm is much more difficult if the heat is leaking out. Make sure windows close and seal properly to keep the warmth in.

Check for any cracks around frames and fill them in (with wall filler). Consider using under-door draught stoppers, also known as “door snakes”, to prevent the wind from sneaking in through the crack at the bottom of a closed entrance.

Prepare for load shedding

Don’t let load shedding catch you off guard. Always have a fully stocked emergency kit at hand. Include batteries, a torch, candles, matches, a lighter and perhaps a battery-powered radio (for news updates).

Make sure your first-aid kit and medicine cabinet have all the items you may need in any emergency. Check that your cellphone is adequately charged. Portable gas stoves don’t cost much and are a great idea to be sure you can enjoy a hot drink or meal even when the power is off.

Maintain heaters and heating systems

Be sure your heating systems are ready to weather the winter. Have a professional check your air-conditioning system and ensure it’s in good working order before you turn it on. Schedule checks for your heater and chimney. Consider a gas heater to help cope with the possibility of load shedding and to save on electricity costs.

Pad your pipes

For those colder parts of the province where below-zero temperatures are common, there is an additional risk: a small frozen pipe can cause big household damage if it bursts. Prevent this from happening by padding your pipes to prevent bursting.

Grab some tubular pipe insulation sleeves from your local hardware store and cover exposed pipes in unheated areas. The pipe sleeves are easy to apply and can be cut to fit. Cover all exposed parts, including bends and joints. Finally, seal the seams with duct tape. With that simple task, you’re not only preventing considerable water damage, but also conserving energy.

Invest in a geyser blanket

Another good idea is investing in a geyser blanket. By insulating the geyser against normal heat loss through the steel casing, the geyser keeps the hot water hot for longer, meaning the geyser does not need to be switched on as often.

Unless insulated, geyser-water temperature can drop by one degree Celsius per hour, so constant energy is needed to maintain the temperature. A geyser blanket can cut energy use by half.

Clean out the garage

Like your traditional spring cleaning, consider scheduling a traditional “autumn cleaning” of your garage.

Organise the remains of your summer projects and clean and store gardening tools. - Rory Judd of MiWay

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