SUMMER is over, autumn is upon us and the fall season is the ideal time to prepare your home heating for winter.

While it doesn’t get overly cold in Mackay, we are still known for using air conditioners, heaters or in some properties, indoor fireplaces to keep our homes warm.

Therefore, here are some pre-winter home heating tasks to undertake now, starting with one of the most important, fire preparation.

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Smoke alarms

Test your smoke alarms. Press and hold the test button for at least five seconds until you hear the beeps. Any smoke alarms not functioning properly should immediately be replaced.

Every six months, vacuum your smoke alarms to remove any dust. Keeping your smoke alarms free from particles can help to reduce false alarms and ensure smoke can easily reach the internal sensor.

Smoke alarms older than 10 years should be replaced. Come 2027, all residential properties will have to install interconnected smoke alarms. Wireless or hardwired, with interconnected smoke alarms when one goes off, they all go off, giving everyone extra time to escape.

If your smoke alarms are due to be replaced, consider upgrading to interconnected smoke alarms now. Wired interconnected smoke alarms will need to be installed by a licenced and qualified electrician.

Air conditioning

There are a lot of advantages to preparing your air conditioner before setting it to provide heating this winter season. Having your air conditioners maintained and ready for winter not only avoids inconveniences if something breaks down but can also help reduce your electricity bills.

  1. Clean or replace your filters

No doubt, you’ve given your air conditioner a good run over the summer. Therefore, cleaning and or replacing the filters will help your air conditioner operate more efficiently while also ensuring healthier air quality.

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2. Give your air conditioner a simple clean

Cleaning your air conditioner will help your unit operate better and enhance its energy efficiency for the winter season. These are two easy cleaning to-dos that must be done at the start of the cold season:

  • Vacuum and wipe away all dust in the interior louvres of your air conditioning unit.
  • Clear any obstructions to the outdoor components of your air conditioner. These might be branches, leaves, plants, grass clippings, bugs, cobwebs, or dirt.

3.  Schedule regular service maintenance with a professional air conditioning technician

A certified air conditioning technician knows everything about your unit. Regular preventative maintenance will help your technician track any possible problems, which will help prevent future issues that could cause damage and incur additional costs.

Part of preventative maintenance is checking for leakage, testing wirings and gauging the efficiency of the system. Regular check-ups will make sure that your unit is operating properly and efficiently. It’s best to schedule a check-up just before the winter starts.

Most people have the habit of turning up the heat and then turning it down when it becomes too hot. Every air conditioner has a set temperature range, which is generally between 21-22 degrees Celsius. Your unit could have a reduced energy efficiency by 5-10 per cent if you move the thermostat back to a few degrees. It’s critical to allow your air conditioner enough time to work, especially if you’re heating a large space.

Heaters

Before you turn on your heater this winter, be sure it’s safe to use. Make sure there are no exposed wires or loose connections when inspecting the electrical cords.

Use just one appliance per outlet, and switch it off when not in use.

  • Safety tips:
    Find a levelled surface to place your heater
  • Grills designed outdoors or gas heaters should never be used inside the house
  • Make sure that children and pets are monitored when the heaters are on
  • Secure a 1m clearance around your heaters from items that are susceptible to fire.
  • Keep beddings, clothes, curtains, furniture, and combustible materials away from the unit.

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Indoor fireplace

Cleaning a wood-burning fireplace properly and effectively is essential. Maintenance of fireplaces, or the lack thereof, is a serious safety problem, particularly during the winter.

Start by cleaning the front portion of your fireplace. Use a shovel and brush to sweep up ash.

Make sure your fireplace hasn’t been used for a number of days before attempting to clean the inside of the fireplace. Use metal tools and a galvanised bucket to remove the ashes. You can use the combustible material collected, which is rich in calcium and other nutrients, on your garden beds.

Clean the glass at the front of your fireplace. This helps the heat to come out. To clean the glass, use warm soapy water and a scrubbing brush.

Maintaining the flue is very important. Many house fires occur due to flues that haven’t been maintained. Checking a flue requires a brush or a bag dragged through it to loosen soot built up inside. If you are unable to safely do that, hire a professional.

When using your fireplace, make sure you never burn cold or damp wood. Doing so creates excessive smoke outside and sometimes inside your house. Avoid burning treated pine or rubbish in your fire. These can be toxic and create extra soot in the flue. Only burn hardwood.

Use a safety screen when your fire is going. This will provide a barrier to safeguard kids and pets from the fire.