When weather forecasts suggest that the winter of 2015/16 could be a particularly cold one for northern Europe, preparing your home becomes considerably more of a priority. There are several measures you can take to winterproof your property, minimise your energy expenditure and stay warm until spring.
Gardens and guttering
Check that any paving surrounding your property is draining well after rainy spells. If you see that water collects, in the cold weather this could freeze, leading to cracks in the foundations or ice underfoot. The solution will be dependent on several factors, so contact a draining specialist for an independent assessment.
Low-hanging branches within close proximity to fences, walls or windows could cause damage in a storm and should be removed. Look over your roof and walls for any signs of damage, contacting a professional to carry out repairs on problem areas. Even seemingly cosmetic issues such as cracked roof tiles could prevent your home from heating efficiently and let in damaging rainwater, so it's important that they're replaced as soon as possible.
Have your external gutters thoroughly cleaned to avoid fallen leaves and debris causing blockages. If it’s particularly wet where you’re living, then collected rain water can drench walls and even freeze, harming the exterior of your property.
Pipes and insulation
Insulation is one of the best ways to prevent heat loss from a home. However, insulation will sometimes need to be replaced or improved, so it’s worth getting your house assessed by an expert. Insulating attics, external walls, the boiler and even the basement ceiling thoroughly and effectively will vastly improve the energy efficiency of your home.
Similarly, insulating, or lagging, pipes in the winter prevents them from freezing and reduces heat loss. External pipes and taps, pipes running under garages and those in attics are all at risk of weather damage if they aren’t properly insulated. If you're going away for a short time leave your heating programmed on low, at least for a few hours a day, as extra insurance against freezing and cracking.
Open fires are a wonderful way to keep cosy in the cold weather and bring a dark house to life. However, after a summer of no usage, it's important to sweep out the chimney first. There should be an authoritative body of chimney sweeps in your country; confirm that your sweep is registered before hiring.
Energy companies recommend that you have your boiler serviced once a year, to make sure you don’t get caught out and left cold by a breakdown. If you’re just moving into a property you may wish to get it serviced anyway, or consider installing a new, more modern system which may be more efficient.
If you're dreaming of spending the winter months wrapped up in a cosy new home, contact Engel & Völkers. With high-end properties located all around the world, whether you're looking to escape to sunnier climes in the south or embrace the frozen temperatures of the north, we're always ready to guide you towards your perfect next investment.