We all have items in our home that we treasure more than others. Perhaps it’s your favourite acoustic guitar, a painting you bought on holiday or a vintage bottle of wine you were saving for a special occasion. We often think about keeping these items safe from theft or accidental damage. Some require a little more attention though, including taking a look at your thermostat.
Storing musical instruments
Maybe the reason you don’t sound quite like Eric Clapton is because you’ve been storing your guitar incorrectly. Many instruments made out of wood, such as violins and guitars can be affected by their environment, especially the temperature and humidity they’re stored at.
If your guitar, violin, or other wood instrument is kept in extreme cold or heat, or there are sudden temperature changes, you’re likely to see some warping which usually starts with the instrument sounding out of tune. Keep your instrument away from the window or radiator to avoid overheating and damage. There are also certain temperatures which are better for these instruments – usually somewhere around 21°C.
It’s worth thinking about the moisture levels in your room, as central heating can make the air dry in your home around winter. You don't often find thermostats that measure or control humidity in the UK. So, if you want to keep tabs on the humidity, you’ll probably need to invest in a special meter. You can pick one up for around £10, though more high-end meters will cost a lot more.
You’ll want to keep the humidity at around 40 to 60% to make sure your wood instrument doesn’t absorb too much moisture, or become so dry it begins to crack. If your thermostat doesn't have the right features, there are ways you can change the room’s humidity yourself, using items such as a dehumidifier or vaporiser.
Preserving artwork and collectables
Unless you like to keep your home at unusually chilly or hot temperatures, you’ll probably be okay with hanging most art pieces or leaving your vinyl record collection out on show.
But, if you have particularly high value collectables, it’s more important for your home to be the ideal temperature.
Artwork such as paintings can begin to fall apart quickly if not cared for properly. Issues like humidity and temperature can affect the painting. Too many changes of temperature over time cause flaking and cracks in the paint as well as making the canvas weaker.
The best settings for your paintings are 45% to 55% humidity and around 21°C, depending on the season.
Other collectables such as vinyl records can become warped if too hot, especially if exposed to heating from radiators or direct sunlight. It’s best to keep vinyl around room temperature and make sure albums aren’t exposed to humidity over 45% to 50% as this can also damage them.
If your records aren’t in regular use, it’s a good idea to keep your collection at lower temperatures of around 10°C.
Temperature for antique furniture
If you’ve got a unique piece of antique furniture, you’ll know it’s impossible to replace. However, modern homes and antique furniture aren't always a great mix. The British Antique Dealers’ Association highlight this problem, by pointing out that plenty of antique furniture pieces have been through hundreds of years in unheated conditions, yet only survive a couple of winters in heated homes.
Since the wood used in most antique furniture is air-dried timber it contains a lot more moisture than the kiln dried wood which is found in most modern furniture.
The central heating drains moisture from the wood, causing damage as the wood shrinks, which then begins to crack and split. Your precious family heirloom could then end up with warped doors and stuck drawers as well as loose joints from dried out glue.
The best way to make sure your antiques stay intact and in great condition is to keep a good level of humidity in the air during winter when your central heating dries out the air – about 50 to 55% is best.
Antique furniture should also be kept away from radiators, and if possible out of any direct sunlight which can cause problems with dried glue and fading.
Wine storage humidity and temperature
You might not be a connoisseur, but if you plan on keeping wine or even starting a collection, you’ll want to keep it at its best to protect your investment.
Luckily you don’t need to invest in a wine cellar, or purchase a special wine fridge straight away. To keep your wines in their prime, it’s as simple as adjusting the thermostat.
Champagnes and white wine need lower temperatures than red, with champagnes and whites stored between 5 to 11°C. That’s likely to have you shivering though, so if possible store your fizzy wines in a place with temperature controls. Alternatively keep them somewhere cool, like a shed or garage. By contrast, the ideal temperature for most red wines is around 18°C.
Higher temperatures can begin to age the wine more quickly, but levels of humidity shouldn’t really affect the wine. It’s traditionally thought that dry air can damage corks which spoils the wine. But, don’t worry too much, generally anywhere between 50 to 75% humidity and under 21°C is safe for your wine.
Some items will need proper care and storage, as they might not be best suited to the conditions of your home all year round. So while your central heating is on, it’s worth thinking about your special possessions and what temperatures they’re best kept at. To avoid any sudden drops in temperature through problems with your heating, check out our standard boiler cover which includes an annual boiler service to keep it in great shape.