We may only get 4 months of winter, but they’re by no means mild. For most homeowners and expats living in Malta, the lack of central heating means lots of heaters running, wearing two layers of clothing inside, and a quiet resolution to not move away from the sofa, electric blanket, or fireplace.
Winterproofing your home will help you cut down on the electricity bill, make more efficient use of your heating appliances, and add a layer of comfort to life in Malta. As an archipelago in the centre of the Mediterranean sea, we experience 3,000 hours of sunshine, very mild winters, and hot dry summers. But, that has come with some disadvantages: a lot of humidity, rough winds, and as a nation, little investment in central heating.
Seal the edges of windows
Whether you’re renting or a homeowner yourself, remember that the seal around the edges of windows cracks over time, and Malta’s transition from scorching sunlight to barrels of rain accelerates the process. These gaps and cracks let hot air out and cold air in (or vice versa during the summer). Seal and block the gaps to keep the heat where it belongs – inside.
Attach a door sweep
A third of the heat from our rooms escapes through closed doors and windows. To keep that precious heat from escaping through cracks, attach door sweeps or draft stopper to the bottoms of your doors.
Flip the switch on your home ceiling fans
A quick and easy fix to keep yourself warm in Winter is to flip the switch on your home’s ceiling fans. Running them in reverse pushes heat downward into the room instead of pulling it up and away.
Quick note: don’t forget to change them back in the spring!
Insulate the hot water heater
If your water heater is a bit older, wrap it in a thermal insulating sheet / blanket. When insulating a gas or propane water heater, do not cover the burner access.
A blanket necessary is not necessary if you have a new water heater that is factory insulated with R-16 or better. The manufacturer’s label will tell you how much insulation your water heater contains.
Ask a plumber to check your gutters and pipes
Clogged gutters or pipes are most vulnerable in Winter, so this might be a good time to call a plumber – with their equipment, they can find out where your pipes may be clogging up. It’s always cheaper to fix a small problem before it becomes a disaster.
Keep your washer and dryer protected from the elements
Try to build some sort of structure – like a small wooden shed – to keep your washer and dryer protected from the elements. Moisture in the air can result in electrical shorts and, in Malta, rust is more than likely.
For example, having a countertop over your washer and dryer can help to organize your laundry room. Building one yourself is also pretty easy, mainly involving measuring out the dimensions, purchasing the wood, and putting it all together.
Invest in a dehumidifier
Seriously. In Malta, a dehumidifier can make a drastic change to your interiors. With moisture in the air, your home feels much colder, drying clothes inside becomes takes longer, and your home becomes more hospitable to allergens such as dust mites, mould, and mildew.