Canada's Condominium Magazine

Winterizing your condo: things to check before the big chill of winter; saving energy and keeping warm

As the weather changes, pumpkin spice begins to fill the air. The crisp, fall temperatures are certainly a welcome change from the hot summer months, but they also serve as a stark reminder that old man winter is just around the corner. Winter brings visions of snow-capped mountains, ice skating, holiday cheer, and families everywhere curling up by the fireplace, sipping cocoa. Vacations begin mid-December, and we often plan months ahead of time how we will spend those few weeks. Will we be spending them quietly at home, or will we visit relatives for the holidays? Perhaps we will fly out to a more tropical setting. Whatever the case, the winter to-do list is sure to be a long one. The following are some tips to help prepare your home for whatever may come.

 

The Nest programmable thermostat can be controlled via an app on your smartphone. You can also program optimal heat for optimal time of day.

 

 

By Sassa Brown

Although most of the winterizing “tasks” for condominium apartments are undertaken and managed by the building management, there are some things to do to ensure a cozy winter, lower hydro bills and protection of your home — with suggestions on how to communicate with building management for the bigger tasks.

 

Check window seals and integrity. There should be no condensation between layers of glass (which indicates a broken seal). There should be no drafts, which indicates resealing or caulking is needed.

 

 

Eliminate Drafts

Winter and summer months are typically the hardest on our wallets due to rising costs of heating and cooling. A few simple tricks can go a long way in helping to cut those costs. Weather-stripping tape, draft guards, and other similar methods can make a world of difference in cutting costs by closing up the cracks between doors and windows to reduce drafts. Another way to reduce drafts is by covering your air conditioner. This also protects the equipment from the elements so that it does not malfunction later on when you need it most. This past summer, our air conditioner was so worn out that it broke down three times before we finally replaced it.

Although exterior seals and caulking may or may not be condo maintenenace’s responsibility, you can supplement your protection with various available seals, pads or window coverings.

 

Nest thermostat, or its equivalent, can save you energy and keep you comfortable. Programed themostats and remote internet-controlled environment controllers (accessed by smartphone or browser) can keep you in control.

 

 

Invest in the Nest

My husband recently purchased the Nest Thermostat, and it is one of his new favorite gadgets. This thermostat goes the extra mile to drastically cut costs associated with heating and cooling. You can connect it to Amazon Echo and command it to set the temperature from the comfort of your sofa. Once you have used it for a week, it will have programmed itself to work around your schedule and needs. If you keep the house a little warm but prefer to cool off after your morning jog, it will make note of that and begin to set the temperature that way on its own. It also adapts as the seasons change, so surviving the winter months should be a breeze.

The Nest is also designed to detect when you leave. When nobody is home, it turns off. You can also set it from anywhere in the world using your smartphone. If you are out of town for the holidays, you may worry that you will be returning to a meat locker instead of your usually cozy condo. Set the Nest from your phone shortly before you arrive home, and it should be nice and warm by the time you walk through the door.

 

Be ready for power failures with flashlights, first aid kits and bottled water. You may never need it, but you’ll be glad you have it in the worst case scenario.

 

Electrical Issues

If your area is prone to rolling blackouts during winter months, it is a good idea to prepare your condo for what lies ahead. Nobody wants to be trapped on an elevator or behind an automatic gate because a sudden power failure has caused systems to shut down. Tenants typically do not have much control over these areas, but it never hurts to bring these issues up with your condo board to ensure that proper precautions are taken. If necessary, avoid elevators and make sure you are stocked up on the necessities whenever you are expecting adverse weather conditions.

Stock up and replish first aid kits, candles, fresh batteries for flashlight and an emergency radio, and add important safety items such as a knife. Keep plenty of bottled water on hand.

 

Programmable thermostats are the best way to stay comfortable and save energy — even the old-fashioned non-smart-phone enabled type.

 

Water Works

Another issue to bring to the condo board is one concerning irrigation, fire sprinklers, plumbing lines, and any other systems that may be subject to failure due to frozen pipes. Irrigation systems should be drained and shut off when the forecast warns of inclement weather. Fire sprinklers, on the other hand, cannot be drained nor shut off for obvious safety reasons. Your unit should be kept warm to ensure that the sprinklers work properly when needed.

 

 

Winterizing your condo will cut costs and save energy without sacrificing comfort. Utilizing these tips and others will help. Share these tips with your neighbors, and perhaps you will learn some of their tried-and-true methods as well.

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