Winter is fast approaching and we’ll all be spending more time in our homes, so it’s about time to make sure they are safe, warm and cosy places to ride out the winter storms and freezing nights.
Winter is also the most expensive time of the year for homeowners, with increased heating bills and potential for costly leaks and breakages, so taking the time to do a few early winter jobs can save a fortune.
Here are a few ideas to get you started, some links to local providers and some helpful videos.
Clean your gutters
Guttering plays a vital role in reducing damp and leaks in the home as it diverts water away from the walls and windows and ensures water doesn’t pool around the foundations.
Moss and grass can grow in soil deposits carried in rain, leading to blockages both in the gutters and downpipes, leading to damaged guttering which lets water drop down the walls. You can either clean it yourself with the right tools or enlist the help of local specialists
Proper insulation means you need to put less heat into your home to maintain a comfortable temperature, saving money and reducing your carbon footprint, with estimated savings of 45% per annum on heating bills.
Insulating your walls and roof are obviously major projects requiring capital investment (although grants are available ), as does double glazing, but there are a number of smaller things you can do to keep your home warm.
Draughts are a major source heat wastage, bringing cold air into your home that needs to be heated, so check for the fit of doors and windows and seal any leaks Look out for areas of damp as well.
Damp patches can indicate leaks which can lead to expensive damage, but they are also very good at conducting heat away from your home.
Service your heating
A well-maintained heating system is an efficient system, burning less fuel to keep your home warm and making sure it’s getting the heat to where you want it to be.
A regularly serviced boiler burns fuel efficiently and passes this heat to the water system. This saves you money and reduces the chance of failures, making sure you have cheap heating all year round.
Your radiators need to be properly balanced and bled to provide even heat throughout the home, so check this also.
Finally, don’t forget your hot water tank. If this is not properly serviced and insulated, your water may have cooled before you want it, wasting energy. Avoid using the immersion if possible as this is often more expensive than gas and oil-fired water heating.
Check your ventilation and fit carbon monoxide alarm.
Without adequate ventilation, the air in your home gets damp and this can lead to condensation and takes more energy to heat, so it’s important to have adequate ventilation to replace the old damp air with fresh dry air.
Make sure that ventilation grilles are clear and open during the winter to let the old air out and make sure there is proper ventilation. Near boilers to avoid the build-up of carbon monoxide.
Check your paths for moss, weeds etc and cut back overhanging branches
Wet leaves and moss can be treacherous on driveways and paths at any time, but this is especially true when the temperature drops. Clear paths of plants and debris and fix any cracks as you won’t be able to see them when you are walking in the dark.
Check water tanks and pipes
Exposed pipes can freeze in cold weather, causing the pipes to expand and potentially burst, causing massive structural and property damage, so make sure that all pipes are properly insulated, especially in the attic or in exterior spaces like garages and outhouses if pipes are present.
Know where your stop taps are and how to turn off the water, and think about turning the water off if you are away for an extended time.
Clean out your chimney
There is nothing better than an open fire in creating a sense of comfort and warmth during the winter, so if you are lucky enough to enjoy a roaring fire, you need to make sure that the chimney is clear and in good working order as this will ensure both a safe and efficient fire.
Blocked chimneys can let dangerous gases back into the home and in the worst case, catch fire, so need to be periodically checked and cleaned. See here for a selection of service providers in the local area
Search for draughts and seal them
You want to keep out as much of the cold air as possible. Do a careful inspection of your house to determine if there are any air leaks. Places to look include near dryer vents, windows, electrical wiring and, of course, the pipes.
Once you find them, a standard caulk gun and caulk should do the trick in sealing up those leaks and keeping out the chill.
Clear out drains
Drains near the home take rainwater away from the house, but if they get blocked, they can overflow, leaving you with puddles of water near the home and, potentially, flooding, so make sure that leaves and debris are not building up in or around your drains.
If you’re feeling inspired, check out some great videos, but if you’re not, here’s a selection of local service providers.