Getting your home ready for winter

In the words of Game of Thrones, winter is coming. Before the cold weather sets in, there are lots of simple steps you can take to ensure you are prepared for every eventuality around the home.

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Check your energy tariff
Contact your energy supplier and see if you are on their best possible deal. If you’re near the end of your contract, compare with other suppliers and see if you can get a better deal elsewhere. If you can find a better deal but you’re only part way through your current contract, it’s worth finding out what the penalty is for switching supplier early. You might still save money in the long run, even if you have to pay a small penalty now.

Get those appliances serviced
776861_25157845Call in a professional to look over your boiler to make sure everything works as it should. The last thing you want is for your boiler to break when you are really relying on it. According to the Energy Saving Trust, boilers account for about 55% of what we spend in a year on energy bills, so an efficient boiler can make a big difference to your bills. If you need to replace your boiler, your energy supplier may have some sort of special offer, or there may be grants available to cover all or part of the cost. It’s also worth checking that your washing machine and tumble dryer are working correctly. Any strange noises while the machine is going through a cycle might indicate a problem, so it’s best to get someone to check it out, as both machines are like to get plenty of use during the winter months. Don’t forget to check that your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms work as they should.

Bleed radiators
Radiators need maintaining, just like a lot of appliances around the home. By ‘bleeding’ the radiators in your home, you let out any air that has become trapped. This step-by-step guide explains what to do. It’s considered a relatively straightforward job, but if you are unsure what you’re doing, get advice from a qualified professional.

Insulating and draught-proofing
It’s not only better for the environment, but Insulation around the home can greatly reduce heat loss and reduce your heating bills. In an uninsulated home, a quarter of heat is lost through the roof. Loft insulation is effective for at least 42 years, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Other insulation options include walls, floors and around tanks, pipes and behind radiators. If your home is in need of insulation, there may be grants available to help with all or part of the cost, such as British Gas – and you don’t have to be a British Gas customer to qualify. Draught-proofing your home your home involves blocking up unwanted gaps that let cold air in and warm air out. Common places that require draught-proofing include around windows and doors. According to the Energy Saving Trust, this could save you £25 to £50 per year. If you’re going to carry out the work yourself, look for draught-proofing materials with a Kitemark, as this shows that the product is made to a good standard. The Energy Saving Trust advises that while calling in a professional to help with this will cost more than doing the job yourself, enlisting a professional is likely to save more energy in the long run because the installer will know which materials to use and where best to use them. For more helpful tips, see here.

Check your flood risk
If your home is at risk from flooding, you need to have a plan of action to protect your home. Find out more about how to be prepared here.

Outside the home/in the garden
Before the clocks to go back and it gets darker earlier, there are a few jobs outside the home that can be looked at. Clear leaves, dirt and debris from guttering, as blockages can cause water damage. If your chimneys are in use, getting them swept can remove the build-up of dirt from your chimney walls. You should also have the roof checked for any signs of damage, such as loose tiles. You might also want to have any trees or branches trimmed in your garden that could cause damage if they fell during windy or weather stormy conditions. The last thing you want during windy weather is to be chasing your furniture around the garden as the winds take hold. Apart from not being a fun job, the furniture could cause damage. To be on the safe side, clean any items that are usually left in the garden, and put them into the shed.

TOP TIP: Keep some emergency supplies ready for if a power cut occurs. Include batteries, a torch, candles, matches and a lighter a battery-powered radio, some non-perishable food items and bottled water. You should also have a first-aid kit and essential medication such as paracetamol. If you have pets or a young child, make sure you have spare tins of pet food and formula milk to hand as well.