Is your home ready for winter? Try our 10 steps to find out…
Is it me, or is it getting nippier?
In early September parts of Britain were hotter than Tenerife.
Now, winter is almost upon us; as temperatures plummet, your gas and electricity bills can soar.
It pays to be on top your energy usage and to make your home is safe, warm and ready for the colder weather.
Don’t worry, you don’t need a degree in mechanical engineering, just follow our simple steps to winter-proof your home.
Step 1 – Make your home draft proof
Turning the heating up is an expensive way to combat a freezing home.
Stopping the cold air entering your home can cut your bills down by 10%.
Try blocking up these points where cold air can get in:
* Gaps between floorboards with a silicone based filler
* Doors with draft-proofing strips installed between the door and the frame
* Windows with again, draft-proofing strips placed around opening casements
* Skirting boards with sealant - material used to seal something to make it watertight or airtight
* Letterboxes – many have a second flap or brushes. If yours doesn’t, try Ecoflap.
Step 2 – Clear the gutters and drains
Clearing the gutters and drains is not the most exciting task, but crucial to getting your home winter-ready.
Water built up in a blocked drain can cause leaks into the roof or walls.
Digging out any leaves or gunk stuck in the drains will cut the risk of water damage.
Top Tip: While you’re checking the drains, it’s worth making sure there are no holes in the wall of your home and that the TV aerial is firmly fixed.
Step 3 – Insulate your home properly
This one is a similar to step 1.
The Energy Savings Trust reckons properly insulating your home can save at least £120 a year.
Not quite the £360 the average customer saves switching supplier on A Spokesman Said, but certainly not to be sniffed at.
Roughly a quarter of the heat in your home escapes through the roof, so that’s as good a place as any to start.
A third of heat is lost through walls, so cavity wall installation is also a wise investment.
You also might want to think about double glazing.
The initial outlay for insulation can seem daunting, so have a look at any grants and subsidies available from the government.
There’s more detail on insulation in our guide.
Step 4 – Bleed your radiators
Bleeding your radiators releases trapped air, which improves its efficiency.
Better efficiency means cheaper energy bills. It’s a simple way of increasing your heater’s output without actually turning the heat up.
Get it done.
Step 5 – A winter-ready home is not just a pipe dream
Freezing weather puts pressure on your pipes, so it’s important to give them some attention.
Protecting them with a foam layer – called lagging – will help stop them freezing and bursting.
Any vegetation, like moss, that has built up around the pipe, need to be removed as it can also cause damage.
Water tanks should be treated with the same care.
Step 6 – All about the boiler
This is a big one.
A bust boiler in winter can be a disaster. If you don’t have boiler cover, now might be the time to take out a plan.
Decent cover starts from as little as £4.95 a month; everything you need to know to get the right boiler cover is in our guide.
Getting your boiler checked can be risky; make sure you use a professional, Gas Safe registered engineer.
If you’ve had your boiler for years, you might want to think about buying a new one. British Gas offer some very attractive deals, which come with impressive warranties.
Gas safety warning: As the weather gets colder, your boiler will be put through its paces and it’s worth remembering to stay safe. Know the tell-tale signs of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a gas leak – headaches, fatigue nausea, dizziness – so that you can call your energy supplier’s emergency line if you suspect anything has gone wrong. It might also be worth installing a carbon monoxide alarm.
Make sure any work done on the boiler is undertaken by a registered engineer
Step 7 – Time to get a smart thermostat?
Smart thermostats (not meters, which the government is rolling out to every home by 2020) give you greater control of your energy usage.
The cost anything from £70 to £250, but can be worth it in the long run, saving you up to 31% on your bills.
You will be able to remotely control your heating from your smartphone and tailor your energy consumption more accurately.
Some energy companies are offering smart thermostats for free if you sign up to one of their tariffs, so shop around and see what you can get.
Step 8 – Check your home insurance policy
It’s very important you check your home insurance policy to make sure you’re covered for winter-related damage.
It might be worth getting accidental or storm damage as an add on if you don’t have it already.
Step 9 – Switch to a winter duvet
You may think it’s none of our business what duvet to use in the bedroom, but switching to a higher tog will keep you warmer – and mean you don’t have to turn on / up central heating as often.
Step 10 – Compare energy deals
Last, but by no means least, it’s time to compare energy prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
With bills expected to rise in an uncertain, post-Brexit energy market, we urge you to use our free comparison tool to find the best deal.
And that's it, you're winter ready!