How to keep heat in and cold out this Christmas
There are many simple ways to ensure your home is cosy, reveals Luke Rix-Standing
When the weather outside is frightful, it may take more than a fire to make your interiors delightful.
The long winter evenings have arrived, along with wind, wet, and possibly snow, so it's time to make sure your home is well prepared for wintry weather. These simple seasonal switches will help keep your house homely come rain or shine - and let's be honest, it's going to be rain.
1. Keep your curtains closed
Closing your curtains limits heat loss and provides an extra barrier against the elements. Your boiler will thank you and so will your heating bill.
2. Draught-proof doors and windows
For windows that open, use self-adhesive strips to seal up any gaps around the frame, and use a soft, silicone sealant for windows that stay closed. Doors can be given similar treatment, but for floor level openings, it may be simpler to employ an old-fashioned, 'sausage dog' draught excluder. Letterboxes and keyholes are also classic sources of draughts. Plug them respectively with letterbox brushes and keyhole covers.
3. Install foil behind your radiators
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If you have radiators fixed to external walls, slide a layer of tin foil between wall and unit to reflect as much heat as possible back into the room. Pick up special heat reflector aluminium foil to maximise retention and remember that hanging clothes on a radiator forces it to work twice as hard.
4. Insulate everything (but mostly your plumbing)
Exposed pipes can be snugged up with slip-on foam tubing, while boilers and water tanks can be easily dressed with jackets. A jacket costs £15-£20 and should come with instructions (make sure you've measured your unit before you buy) and will slash your winter energy bills by reducing heat loss. According to the Energy Saving Trust, it should pay for itself in about three months. Wall, floor and loft insulation are similarly worthy projects, but may require professional installation for all but the most experienced DIY-ers.
5. Use a thermostat to regulate your heating
A modern, programmable thermostat has an inbuilt timer that will allow you to schedule your home's heating, so it powers down when you go out and then turns on automatically on your return.
6. Service your boiler
You do not want your boiler giving out: check the pressure (it should be at around one bar), and ideally get your unit serviced every autumn. If you don't schedule in maintenance for your boiler, your boiler may end up scheduling it in for you.
7. Clean out your gutters
Gutter-clearing is not a glamorous occupation, but fallen leaves and sticks can easily result in a clog and the ensuing build-up of rainwater can cause damp to seep into your walls. Get the ladder out, strap your gloves on, and prepare to get down and dirty.
8. Paper over cracks
To stop wet, wind, and, in some cases, heat-seeking rodents from sneaking into your home uninvited use foam adhesive and caulk to plug gaps in walls and skirting boards. High quality sealants are easy to peel off if you make a mistake, but once hardened should hold firm for many years.
9. Keep the slush away from your door
When you cross the threshold, you don't want winter coming with you and if you don't have a mudroom you're going to have to tackle the weather head-on. A rough-textured doormat will help shed mud and gunk from your shoes, a boot scraper is a must in rural environments and a plastic boot tray should protect your indoor floor.
10. Snug up!
At the end of the day, nothing cosies up a long winter evening like traditional home comforts and hygge. Pile on the blankets, set a fire going, brew some hot cocoa and throw on some Dean Martin. Bliss.