3 ways to get your home ready for winter
By Katie Anderson on November 27th, 2013
Your house is your home but it’s also a shelter, and with winter fast approaching you really should be giving some thought to making sure your home is ready for extreme drops in temperature, snow fall and whatever else winter has in store.
The last couple of years have seen the UK endure some of the coldest winters since records began as temperatures plummeted and snow and ice played havoc across the whole of the country.
From instructing a heating engineer to service your boiler and bleed your radiators to draught proofing gaps around windows and doors and clearing gutters and drains, there’s no time like the present to prepare your home inside and out for the perils of winter weather.
Boilers & central heating systems
When the cold weather really starts to bite most of us rely on our central heating to keep us warm and comfortable. Bleeding radiators to release trapped air will enable hot water to flow into every part of the radiator and will instantly improve the efficiency of your heating. Cheap to buy, reflector panels can be fitted behind radiators to radiate heat back into the room. It’s such a simple measure to implement but so worth while because radiator reflectors can cut heating bills by up to 20%.
The thought of having no heat or hot water really doesn’t bear thinking about! If you haven’t already had your boiler serviced within the last 12 months then arrange to have it checked over. Boilers need to be serviced annually to ensure they are working efficiently, and ideally before the winter period when heating engineers are at their most busiest. Expect to pay between £100-150 for a boiler service.
It’s worth considering adding an anti-freeze chemical to your central heating system and also fitting a frost thermostat, which will turn on your boiler whenever the temperature reaches a minimum level.
Of course if your central heating system is old and inefficient – which usually means anything between 10 to 15 years old and upwards – then you’ll be losing money at an alarming rate. So now could be the perfect time to replace that energy sapping ancient boiler with a modern A-rated energy efficient model. Condensing boilers could save you up to £310 off your energy bills every year. Thermostats should ideally be set at between 18°C -21°C and hot water cylinder thermostats should be set at 60°C.
When the cold weather hits we naturally like to turn the heating up a fraction or two. And that’s not exactly good news when we’re all trying to keep our energy costs as low as possible. If you really want to take charge of your heating and hot water then smart heating controls could be the answer. By working with your boiler to manage home energy use, smart heating controls can help households to cut their annual gas and oil bills by on average 23%.
The trick to staying warm and comfortable whilst keeping those dreaded energy bills as low as possible is to keep heat in. Remember draughts are bad, ventilation is good. Draught proofing gaps around windows and doors and even letterboxes is a cheap way to stop heat from escaping and letting cold air in.
If your home has cavity walls then make sure they are insulated. Don’t forget your loft also needs adequate insulation too, which means at least 10 to 11 inches. If the insulation is 4 inches or less than it certainly needs to be topped up. Thanks to Government subsidised schemes home insulation including loft and cavity wall insulation can be fitted at reduced rates or even for free.
Home insulation doesn’t have to cost the earth. Thick curtains can be a great asset in terms of keeping heat in. But don’t forget to draw them when dusk sets in.
General external maintenance
Take a few minutes to give your home a once over from the outside. Trouble signs to look out for include broken, cracked or loose roof tiles. You certainly don’t want water leaking into your home causing unnecessary damage, particularly in the middle of winter.
Gutters and drains are far too easily overlooked but if you want to avoid damp or leaks in your home then they occasionally need some TLC. It’s important to keep them free from leaves and other debris to avoid blocked overflows during heavy rain fall which can cause damp to penetrate your home. And check that drains aren’t blocked otherwise you could end up enduring a sudden flash flood.
And don’t forget to check that your garden furniture and any fencing is secure. Loose fencing panels are frequent casualties of high winds and ideally furniture is best stored in a garage or garden shed for safe keeping.