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a home fit for winter

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I’m one of those home owners who knows nothing about house maintenance. This means that on one evening when the room seemed to be getting colder and colder for no good reason I didn’t think anything of it for a while. Then when I checked the central heating boiler, it was flashing - that never looks like good news. I eventually managed to work out (with the help of the instructions) that there wasn’t enough water in the system and also how to fix it (turn relevant tap). That probably saved me £70 in call out charges from a gas engineer - there’s only so long I would be willing to go without heating.

I think I need to get more on top of this maintenance lark. For Christmas I received some DIY store vouchers and this time, I bought some sensible stuff - radiator keys so that I can bleed the radiator in my room, a draught excluder for the front door which opens straight onto the living room - as well as some new knobs for the kitchen cupboards (well, they were half-price and sort of needed).

Making an effort to improve the insulation of the house should save me in heating bills. I live in an end of terrace workers’ cottage, which means that there’s no wall insulation and it’s prohibitively expensive to fit some. It’s actually the little things that will have the most effect. I’m also doing things like closing the curtains promptly at night to keep the heat in, and shutting all the doors in the room that I’m in. I save money by using blankets, hot water bottles and keeping the heating on a timer.

Although I’m not really a winter or house person, I do know enough to keep the heating on very low (there’s a special setting on the boiler) to ensure that the pipes don’t freeze. As I’m sure you know, if they do freeze when they thaw out they will probably flood the house.

This constitutes my complete knowledge of how to make sure my house functions well in winter. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments.

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5 comments for “a home fit for winter”

  1. “Black and Decker Complete Photo Guide to Home Repairs”. Not winter-centric but worth its weight in gold. Sounds like you have the basics covered, especially if you have a timer. Another thing we’ve concentrated on is ensuring the grading and gutters are adequate, as snow buildup can cause basement leaking, but not sure if you have snow or a basement!

    Posted by guinness416 | January 3, 2009, 2:41 am
  2. Pretty much the same as me with homes and cars - I know nothing about maintenance and usually only find out there’s a problem when something goes catastrophically wrong. Hence why my car now needs a new engine.

    I’m considering trying to get a grant to have our loft insulated properly which should keep the heat in better. Most of our radiators are annoyingly situated under the windows, which to me makes no sense whatsoever as I’m sure most of the energy just escapes out of there. We also have curtains over some of them, which just exacerbates the problem, so there’s definitely stuff we could be doing better around our home.

    Posted by Rob Lewis | January 3, 2009, 10:30 am
  3. @guinness416:
    No snow or basement here, but checking the gutters does sound like a good idea anyway. I’ll see if I can find that book.

    Curtains over radiators won’t help. I’m sure that it’s not good having radiators on an outside wall either.

    Loft insulation sounds like a good plan, especially if you can get a grant for it. When I was in Homebase yesterday, it was on special offer.

    Posted by plonkee | January 3, 2009, 11:59 am
  4. I remember being soooo cold in England in the winter! Have you seen any sunlight since October?

    So, the problem is, you’re in an end unit and the walls are uninsulated, is that right?

    There’s a relatively easy way to fix this; since you’re not the crafty type, you’ll need a handyman to help. If the wall is block, you can fur it out — have the guy tack furring strips (long, thin strips of wood) to the wall. If it’s drywalled already, pull off the drywall to reveal the existing furring. Between the furring strips, place cut-to-measure pieces of styrofoam insulation. Then nail drywall over the whole lash-up. The handyman will need to tape the drywall seams and lay on a finishing coat of plaster. Then all you have to do is paint it, an easy DIY project.

    This is amazingly effective.

    While the handyman is there, put him up to caulking around the windows, or at least being sure the existing caulking is still sound. You can check this yourself with a candle. Wherever warm air is seeping out or cold air is seeping in, it will cause a candle flame held near the leak to waver.

    Posted by Funny about Money | January 3, 2009, 8:13 pm
  5. An easy way to reduce heating cost is to use an intelligent heating controller which can include occupancy sensors so that rooms are reduced to a background tempreture whilst not in use.

    Posted by Heatingsave heating controls | October 28, 2009, 3:18 pm

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