How to prepare your home for the cold Maltese weather
Malta may be known as a sunny island, but anyone who ever spent a winter here will agree that the cold can be mean. The temperatures don’t drop too low. However, the island experiences a humid sort of chill that infiltrates through walls and clothes - and into our bones.
So, as the weather gets colder, we want to ensure our homes are equipped to keep us warm and dry. The last thing we want is having to deal with a dripping ceiling because we forgot to check the roof, or having to duct tape our living room’s balcony door to keep the cold air out. Here’s what you need to do to ensure your home is ready for Malta’s cold season.
Inspect your roof & balconies
This should be your number one priority. Check your roof at least once or twice a year to make sure there are no leaks, cracks or debris blocking any drains. Blocked drains can cause water to accumulate on your roof and this increases the chances of water leaking into the house.
Make sure your roof is properly waterproofed so that it can withstand the rain without letting in one single drop. If you have balconies, check the drains regularly (especially after windy and rainy weather) to ensure they are not blocked, as accumulated water could seep into your house.
Check your windows & doors
Many of us happily welcome the fresh winter wind after a hot summer. But we don’t want it inside our homes. This is why you must check that your windows and doors are airtight and watertight before winter really kicks in. You might want to bring in a handyman to do the job, unless you feel confident handling materials such as waterproof sealer or spray foam.
Get your heating sorted
Now that your house is waterproof and airtight, you want to make sure it’s warm and cosy throughout winter. Maltese stone is notorious for allowing humidity and cold to creep in. But there are various ways to heat your home.
When it comes to electric heating, there are various options to choose from. The most common are conventional electric heaters and air conditioning, although other technologies, such as infra red panels (that transmit heat onto objects), are also available.
Conventional electric heaters are convenient since you can move them around based on your needs. The larger, more modern ones are more efficient than the small portable ones, as they consume on average of 3kWh per hour to heat an average size room. Local energy experts have been quoted as saying that one needs about 10,000 BTU to heat an average room.
Most Maltese homes are equipped with air conditioning in key rooms - it’s the only way to survive the summer heat. So why not use them in winter to heat your home? Contrary to what many believe, the more modern units are energy efficient, making them ideal to use throughout the year. An AC system on heating mode consumes 1kWh per hour to heat the same average size room.
Gas and wood-burning heat
If you don’t want to use electric heating, you can opt for systems that use different types of ‘fuel’ such as gas, kerosine, ethanol, wood or pellets. Gas heating is commonly used in Malta. LPG gas heaters produce great heat, but the gas cylinder is heavy to carry and the price seems to be constantly on the increase.
Stoves and fireplaces take the prize in terms of ambience. There are various options to pick from when it comes to the fuel that will light your fire. It’s best to do your homework carefully before picking a system, to ensure you don’t end up receiving costly bills.
Whichever system you go for, you might want to check out the current energy tariffs, and look into the prices of gas and other forms of fuel.
Handle the humidity
As mentioned earlier, managing the humidity is without a doubt one of the biggest challenges home owners face during the winter months. Mould occurs as a result of moisture in the atmosphere condensing on cold surfaces - provided by Maltese stone. When we heat a room and keep the windows closed, any moisture in the atmosphere converts to mould. Apart from being unsightly, this fungal growth can also seriously impact our health.
The key to preventing mould is proper ventilation and heating. It is important to aerate rooms, even in winter. This especially applies to humid places like bathrooms, where it is advisable to open the window (ajar) after showering. Dehumidifiers do a good job of removing moisture from the air, but it’s still important to ventilate the area. Another way of removing moisture is leaving big bowls of salt in humid areas, as this acts as an absorbing agent.
The most effective way to remove mould is to use neat bleach on a cloth and wipe it off. Allow the wall to dry well before painting or applying any mould prevention products.
Cosy up your home
Now comes the fun part. One of the ways of warming up your home in winter is essentially to dress it up for the season. So roll out the carpets and bring out the blankets.
Ensure you get good, shiver-less sleep by replacing your bedding. Swap those cold cotton sheets with welcoming flannel ones, and top them up with a thick quilt or blanket. And as the sun sets, draw the blinds and the curtains to further insulate your home and keep out the cold.
Your home is now ready to keep you and your family warm throughout the colder months.
Keep discovering local this winter - you can always rely on www.yellow.com.mt!