December has come to and end, which means that the unforgiving temperatures of January and February are soon going to blow in. It’s been a pretty mild winter so far, but the Farmer’s Almanac describes the coming months of 2010 for Ontario as “bitterly cold and dry” and “colder than normal”. The weather will soon begin dipping significantly below the seasonal averages of just under freezing temperatures.
Winter is an odd beast – it can be damp and slushy, soaking your boots until it feels like you’re walking on frozen little hooves, or it can bring icy fingers, numb ears, crunchy hard snow and wonderfully crystalline, white roads that appear when the cold is just too brutal for any moisture in the air to help dissolve any salt on the ground. Then comes those particularly icy days, where you’re lucky to make it to work without both bruised knees and pride after wiping out on your way to your car. The only relief you’ll find during months like these is to come home, relax and warm up. If you’re selling your home, potential buyers will also be able to notice this when visiting, and identify your place as a cozy, comfortable retreat they could see themselves one day living in.
Keeping your home warm and dry in the winter through regular maintenance isn’t too difficult.
First, look for any condensation that appears on walls or windows. This can harm your windows and really compromise the structural integrity of the surrounding walls or frames. Keep a rag or towel nearby and wipe up any moisture as frequently as possible. If there’s ice on the inside or a draft, you can install weather stripping or seal the leaks until spring arrives and more permanent measures can be taken.
Furnace filters should actually be changed every month or two. This will make sure your system is efficiently heating your home as well as possible and not waste energy.
Changing these filters also improves your indoor air quality – a very important factor during the winter months when so much time is spent inside.
If you don’t use certain rooms often, close the doors. If your home is especially drafty, this will slow the circulation of cold air and ensure you’re only heating air in rooms you do use. Heavy curtains can also help keep the cold out. Throw rugs and carpets can really warm up a room, and there is nothing like the thought of having to roll out of your safe, toasty bed and step onto an ice cold floor that will make you hit snooze one more time.
The reason all of these small measures become necessary is because most people can’t just jack up their heat. Turning up the temperature uses more energy and thus costs more money, but installing a thermostat to turn down the temp when no one is home can make up for raising the house by a degree or two once in a while on those really nasty days.
Heather Rose is a Toronto based Journalist, who is a regular contributor to the Muddy York Real Estate Blog. Heather website is located at heatherroseportfolio.squarespace.com.