Winter-proofing your home on the Costa del Sol.

4th October 2023
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Foto de Саша Ромадин: https://www.pexels.com/es-es/foto/resfriado-festivo-invierno-vaso-19743453/

Dolan Property
Your trusted Marbella real estate agent and property specialist on the Golden Mile.
Winter-proofing your home on the Costa del Sol.
 
25th  September 2023
By Michael Dolan
 
 
For residents of Andalucia and frequent visitors to Marbella and the surrounding areas of Estepona,
San Pedro and Mijas; this time of year - heading into Autumn – is often lauded as one of the best. As
fall settles in, we leave behind the occasionally unbearable heat of summer, replacing it with cooler
(but still warm) temperatures, a still seemingly endless brilliant blue sky; plus, the time and energy
to go on excursions inland, play golf, meet friends, walk along the paseos, and generally appreciate
life outdoors.
Whilst the weather is generally mild throughout winter, (there are around 320 days of sunshine each
year), it does get cold in the evenings - well its relative, it is not cold like Scotland or Norway would
be.
Many of the houses on the Costa del Sol, (especially the older ones), were primarily built as holiday
homes. They are designed to keep the heat out in the incredibly hot summer months, rather than
the warmth in. They are often poorly insulated and have no inbuilt heating, which means it is
sometimes colder inside, than outside basking in the winter sun.
Here at Dolan Property, we have collated the top tips on how to get your property ready for the
cooler months; our favourite ideas on how to keep yourself, and your home, warm and toasty; plus,
some of the options available to heat your house or apartment. 
 
How to get your Spanish property ready for winter.
 
Here are some of our top tips for getting your property ready for the autumn/winter months.
 
Load up on fuel.
 
If you have a wood burner, an open fireplace, a pellet stove, an oil-fired heating system, gas burners,
or any other type of heating system that requires fuel to keep it running, now is the time to get
stocks in. There is nothing worse than a sudden drop in temperature, suddenly everyone is
scrambling (at teatime), to get their hands on the ultimate set of logs from the timber merchants,
the final bag of coal, or the very last bottle of gas from the petrol station…. or having to wait days for
a delivery.
 
Get yours ordered early; and rest in peace that when the nights draw in and the temperature drops,
you’ll be warm and snug in front of the TV!
 

Stock up on essentials.
Extreme weather is pretty infrequent here on the Costa del Sol. If you are based near a major town
or municipality, it is likely that you will be able to locate some type of shop, open 365 days a year.
However, it is always best to be prepared, even more so, if you are located remotely or the access to
your property is harder to navigate.
Autumn/winter also brings the small amount of rain that we do have, sometimes all in one week (or
even one day). Which means floods and power-cuts are a possibility, plus no-one really wants to
venture out in the rain, unless they really must.
So, if there are storm/rain weather warnings, then make sure you stock up on the essentials –
 Torches/flashlights (with spare batteries).
 Candles (and something to light them with (matches, gas lighter)).
 Bottled water.
 Store cupboard food (tins, packets etc).
 A camping stove or similar, so you can heat up those tins of beans, or boil some water for a
cup of tea.
 Pet food.
 First aid kit.
 A good book, jigsaw, or some board games – to keep you (and the kids) amused if the TV is
down.
 Portable chargers (ready and fully charged) for your phone, tablet, iPad, or kindle.
 
Unblock your drains and clear gutters of debris.
 
You probably haven’t had to think about drainage the whole summer, with the excessive heat and
non-existent rainfall. Now is the time. If the rain does come, the last thing you need is flooding,
caused by a blocked drainage system, and gutters that are full of leaves.
 
Starting with the seeds from the palm trees in May and June, the deciduous plants shedding in
autumn, and everything in between, including the Sahara dust, that turns to clay when wet! These
all accumulate in drains, on roofs, and in gutters, so make sure your drains are unblocked and these
areas are free of debris. Then the only things you’ll have to worry about is what to do for the few
rainy days, and some frizzy hair.
 
 
Ensure your pipes don’t freeze.
 
If you live in an area that drops below freezing, especially if the house is going to be empty for long
periods of time whilst you’re travelling overseas (i.e., it is a second or holiday home), then look at
protecting the pipes and any water systems.
 
If the water freezes, it expands and can split or break the pipes carrying it around your home. This
can lead to a major problem when the pipes thaw. The thawed water running at full pressure can
flood your home, causing even further damage.
 
Protecting the pipes could mean wrapping or insulating them; have a friend or a neighbour come in
regularly to run the water; disconnect garden hoses and, if possible, use an indoor valve to shut off

and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets; set the central heating system to come on at
night to warm the house; add antifreeze to the solar water system.
 
Also don’t forget your car – make sure you top up the antifreeze in any vehicles you may be leaving
in storage.
 
Protect your plants.
This also goes for your plants, if the temperature in your area drops very low at night, (for example,
if you live high up on the mountain) then you will need to look after your plants. Bring any moveable
potted plants inside. For those that stay outside, you can add mulch into the soil to insulate them,
and keep the leaves covered with a blanket, or some sacking.
 
Ideas on warming you and your Spanish home in the cooler months.
 
Here are some of our favourite ideas for keeping you and your house warm this winter.
Letting the sunshine in.
In the colder months it is a good idea to let the sun heat your house naturally. Solar rays include
infrared, which is the light that creates the sun's warming effect. There are less daylight hours during
the winter months, in the morning make sure you open up those curtains, blinds and shutters, so the
natural light can make its way into your home, warming up the space.
Rugs and carpets.
Those terracotta or marble tiles are wonderful in summer for keeping the house cool. Come winter
though, those toes do feel cold. Tiles are a real nightmare to try to heat up and keep warm, and they
suck up the heat from the rest of the room. Rugs, mats, carpet pieces, are all ideal for warming the
house and helping maintain a higher interior temperature by acting as insulation.
Thick curtains.
Thick curtains have a dual purpose, preventing any drafts and cool air from getting into the house,
and minimising the heat being lost through the windows. As soon as dusk falls, make sure you close
those drapes to stop the heat escaping. Many people also find that bringing the shutters down in the
evenings and overnight can also help trap the warmth inside.
Blocking out drafts.
There is nothing worse than sitting watching your favourite programme on the telly and having a
cold draft on the back of your neck, or around your feet. Prevent this by checking where air can get
into your property and block up drafts. Draft excluders under doors, thick curtains over windows,
and using curtains or room dividers to block off areas that aren’t regularly used, this will also reduce
the space you are trying to heat.
Making sure you close doors and windows – sounds simple but that is often why we forget. When
you go in and out of the lounge – shut the door to keep the heat inside. That downstairs bathroom

window, and the one on the top landing, remember you opened them up whilst airing the house this
morning, make sure you close them back up.
Hot water bottles and electric blankets.
I’m not sure whether hot water bottles are a typically British thing?! But they were a staple in my
childhood, especially growing up in an old Victorian house. Brrrr…. Slipping one between the covers,
before getting into bed, ensures you have at least one warm spot to put your cold feet on. They are
also great to cuddle with in front of the telly.
(Just make sure your hot water bottle is in-date, it is advised that you replace them every two years;
the rubber can degrade, then they are liable to break, leak or even explode. Most modern ones
come with a small flower/daisy motif embossed either onto the side of the bottle, or by the funnel.
The number displayed inside the middle disc, indicates the year that it was made, and one of the
leaves will display the month, which is the simplest way to tell if it's time to replace it.)
Another essential item for a Spanish winter is the electric blanket. It replaces the need for a hot
water bottle on your bed, and the luxury of slipping into warm sheets on a cold night is unparalleled.
Adding extra layers.
And this doesn’t just mean on you… though an extra fluffy jumper and some socks never hurt
anyone. We are referring to adding extra layers on the furniture.
Cover up that leather sofa with a soft winter fleece. Keep additional throws on hand to snuggle into
whilst you’re watching tv. Consider a weighted blanket, or bedspread on the bed (allegedly they also
promote good sleep).
These can all help keep you warm, without having to hike up the heater.
Change the direction of your ceiling fan.
Sounds crazy! Most of us wouldn’t even think to put a fan on in winter. However, if you change the
direction in which the fan moves, counterclockwise rotation creates a cool breeze, whilst clockwise
rotation pushes warm air outwards. Hot air rises meaning it collects up high, turning on the fan will
help distribute warm air throughout the room.
Some fans will need a manual adjustment, whilst others even have a winter setting mode, check
yours out.
 
Different types of heating for your Costa del Sol property.
Many people do choose to spend the winter months here, as it is much milder than in northern
Europe (the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Germany, Poland, Holland), and there are a variety of
options to choose from when heating your home.
Calor gas heaters.
One of the most popular options for easy portable heating are the Estufas, also called calor or
butane gas heaters. These are mobile gas burners which you can move around the house, they are

run on a 12 kg gas bottle, which can be easily picked up from your local gas station, or a hardware
store. In most towns you can even get a delivery direct to your door if you have an account with the
gas or delivery company.
Space Heaters.
An electric space heater is a device used to heat a small room or a specific area. Hot air is expelled
through a fan, rising naturally, and forcing the cold air down, circulating the heat around the space.
Electric powered ones can prove expensive if you have large areas or multiple rooms to heat, as you
would need several.
Similar options are ceramic, infra-red and water or oil-fired heaters. Ceramic ones work well in
bedrooms, and infra-red ones are popular in bathrooms, often being placed above the doorway. You
can also get water or oil space heaters, usually without a fan. The element heats up the liquid, which
in turn warms the surrounding air.
Wood burning stoves and pellet heaters.
These are self-contained appliances which produce heat from burning combustible wood products,
such as logs, firewood, and sawdust bricks. The fire is contained within the body of the stove, which
is generally made of cast iron or steel. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and designs, and have
a reputation for producing a lot of heat.
A caution, as some models do need a chimney, before getting one installed check your urbanization
doesn’t have restrictions on smoke production. Also, it is worth researching any possible
complications if you have asthma and/or breathing problems.
Another option is a pellet heater. These are freestanding heating stoves or stove inserts that burn
wood pellets. Typically, they are more efficient and produce far less ash than a traditional wood
stove or fireplace, and you won’t need a full chimney system, just an exhaust pipe that connects to a
rooftop vent fixture.
Using an air conditioning unit to heat your room.
Most modern air conditioning units are equipped with a heating option. A reverse cycle air
conditioner (which simply reverses what it does to cool the room in summer) is an extremely
economical choice, proving much more cost efficient than other electric heaters, and rivalling gas or
oil driven space heaters.
Many air conditioners have economy options. It is worth looking at what your machine is capable of,
weighing up the effectiveness vs expense, vs the ease of just being able to switch it on. In addition,
some air conditioners also have a setting to take the moisture out of a room, this is a handy way to
reduce dampness, often making the room feel warmer.
Solar water heaters.
This is a device that uses the sun's energy to produce hot water. A solar heat collector panel,
situated on the roof of your home absorbs sunlight and converts it to heat. This is then passed by a
circulating pump through to a water tank. The water can then be used for your daily domestic hot
water needs and stored in tanks to run storage heating.

There are different models available, ones with either active or passive systems, and whilst they are
more expensive than a traditional water heating system to install, they are incredibly cost-effective
in the long run as they noticeably lower utility bills and are very low maintenance.
With the almost year-round sunshine here on the Costa del Sol they are a great option, and in 2006
Spain made it mandatory to install solar water heating systems in all new builds.
 
Ventilating your home during the winter months.
The air in your home can build up high levels of dust, odours, gases, and other pollutants. To keep
your home fresh and the air clean and safe to breathe it needs diluting by fresh outdoor air.
Meaning air needs to be brought in from outside and circulated throughout all areas of the home.
 
To do this, all you need to do is open the doors and windows wide for a short period of time, ideally
on a regular basis, during the daylight hours. Preferably when the sun is shining, reducing the cold as
much as possible. A minimum of five minutes daily will do; though 20 minutes every day is optimum;
and longer if you wish.
 
Unfortunately, because of the lack of insulation, the way they are designed, and the build-up of
moisture inside, Spanish homes are prone to damp, (especially along the coast and in hilly areas).
Regular airing also helps with this.
 
Additionally, where possible, avoid drying clothes inside the house. On wet days, when you have no
other option, ensure you leave the room well ventilated. Following a bath or shower, use an
extractor fan or open the window to let the steam escape, same goes in the kitchen when you are
cooking.
 
 
 
Dolan Property – experts in Real Estate – Based in Marbella.
 
We are based in the heart of Marbella’s Golden Mile and specialise in high quality, desirable
properties in prime residential locations; Nagüeles, Sierra Blanca, Cascada de Camoján, East and
West Marbella, Istan Road, Nueva Andalucia, and the new Golden Mile in Estepona.
 
We understand that choosing a new home is a big step, and for those of you buying or selling a
property in a foreign country, it can be very stressful. Our team of real estate experts provide a full
‘hands on’ service, we work in partnership with you (our client), your lawyer and any other
professional advisers or consultants. Dolan Property is here to help you through the whole process,
every step of the way.
 
Dolan Property specialists are committed to the highest levels of business and ethical standards,
and we are proud members of the Leading Property Agents of Spain (LPA).


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