Winter is coming and it's important that you know how to regulate the heat in your house, so you can enjoy a warm home when the temperatures in Portugal drop and make sure you’re not paying too much. Here are a few practical tips on how to keep your property nice and toasty during the winter months:
- Check the windows and insulation: Take time to scope out where the heat is escaping from the house. Plug any cracks or holes using a silicone product, available from any home store, so hot air doesn’t get out and cold air from outside can’t get in.
- Weatherstrip the doorways: To avoid small draughts of air coming in through cracks in the door and to make the insulation more efficient, use rubber, silicone or foam weatherstripping underneath and around the doorjambs. It’s a simple but effective trick to help you maintain a suitable temperature in every room.
- Choose the right heating system: These days, most Portuguese properties use either modern gas boilers or heat pumps, which is normally the same device that cools the place in summer. Whichever one you have, remember that any boiler or air conditioning machine needs servicing every so often. If you're thinking about changing or installing a new machine, remember to check whether you need a special permit to adapt the property. If you’re renting an apartment, always check with your landlord before making any changes. Electric radiators are also fairly popular in Portugal, especially in flats that don’t have a system integrated into the home, since all that’s needed is to buy the radiator and plug it in. We also recommend that you install adjustable thermostats in each room – that way you only heat the spaces that you use.
- Use radiators properly: Before turning on your radiators for the winter, you might have to bleed them to let out the air that has accumulated inside. It’s a simple procedure: just turn a small key on the side of the radiator, and when you stop hearing air come out and see a couple of drops of water, close it before all the water comes gushing out. When you do turn the radiators on, be sure not to cover them with anything or place furniture in front of them. In this way, you can take full advantage of the heat circulation.
- Keep a moderate temperature: Don’t change the temperature too much in the house, neither up nor down. Instead, try to maintain a constant, moderate temperature at all times, which will help both your home and your wallet.
- Put curtains in the windows: The thicker the curtains, the better they insulate. While it may not be common practice to find curtains in Portuguese properties, you can hang some yourself to reduce heat loss through the windows. Try adding an extra thermal layer to maximise the warming effect. Open your curtains during the day so that sunlight can enter and heat the flat naturally, and then close them at night so that trapped heat doesn’t go straight out again.
- Put a carpet or rug on the floor: Fitted carpets and floormats can also help keep a good temperature in your home. Bare wooden or stone floors are a huge source of heat loss in many properties, and the simplest and cheapest way to avoid this is just to put down a nice rug.
- Light a fire: If you're lucky enough to have a fireplace, light it! Cosy and comforting on those long winter nights, it can also be cheaper than central heating. Don’t forget to clean out the hearth and chimney and have them checked for damage every year before using it for the first time.
- Remember to ventilate the house: Even if it’s a bit chilly out, it’s still important to ventilate the house every day and clean the stale air inside. Just leave the windows open for 5 minutes a day to get some fresh air in and enjoy the winter to the fullest!