How to prepare your home for the winter

26 September 2017

Shorter days and colder mornings can only mean one thing – winter is coming.

If you’re lucky winter will go by without a hitch, but for many of us winter brings burst pipes, blocked gutters and the aches and pains of cold and flu. Thankfully there are steps you can take to avoid these issues and better prepare you and your home for the winter.

Reduce draughts

Installing draught strips around the inside edges of your doors, windows, letter boxes and loft hatches can greatly reduce draughts in your home. You can purchase a roll of them quite cheaply from places like B&Q and cut them to size yourself. Combine draught strips with draught excluders and keep internal doors closed to maximise the toastiness of your home. 

Invest in home insurance

Many home insurance providers can cover you for winter related damage, such as flooding and burst pipes, however some cheaper policies do not. It’s worth checking to see what you are covered for and upgrading your policy if you feel you might be at risk. 

Keep your pipes warm

Frozen pipes have a high risk of bursting. This risk can be mitigating by wrapping any exposed pipes with foam cardigans – often referred to as lagging – which can be purchased from most DIY stores relatively cheaply.

Get your boiler serviced

It’s a good idea to get your boiler serviced once a year to help protect against dangerous carbon monoxide leaks and other potential issues. A service can also identify any problems that could be affecting the efficiency of your boiler – and correcting these problems could reduce your energy bills. We recommend Emergency Response Group for your next boiler service. 

Optimise your boiler pressure

If you are familiar with your boiler settings then it’s worth checking your boiler pressure. The optimal pressure for most boilers is between 1 and 2 bar. If the pressure is too low or high the boiler will stop working for safety reasons. Here is an easy to follow guide for managing the pressure in combination boilers.

Install a programmable thermostat

Being able to set your central heating to run at fixed times, such as an hour before you wake and an hour before you get home from work is a great way to control how much you spend. You’ll also enjoy the benefits of having a warm home at the right times. A wide range of programmable thermostats can be found on Google Shopping

Find out where your stop cock is

Knowing how to turn off the water supply during a water leak could mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a catastrophic home flood. It’s worth making sure you know where yours is located – in most houses it can be found below your sink. If you need additional help here is a handy video guide to turning off your home water supply.

Add additional layers of insulation

Over time your existing loft insulation can suffer natural wear and tear, reducing its ability to prevent heat loss from your home. Even if your loft insulation is still in good condition, adding an additional layer can vastly improve your homes energy efficiency. 

Bleed your radiators

A build-up of air bubbles in your central heating system can prevent hot water from circulating properly. Each year you should bleed your radiators to remove this trapped air, starting with the radiator downstairs that’s furthest from the boiler. Once finished downstairs repeat the same process upstairs. Here is a video from Craig Philips showing you how to bleed your radiators.

Install radiator heat reflectors

Some older radiators don’t have reflective heat panels behind them, leading to increased heat loss through the walls. Counteract this by installing your own panels which can be purchased from most DIY stores such as B&Q.

Switch to a cheaper energy supplier

Why pay above the odds if another energy supplier can heat your home for less? Simply compare your costs with other providers listed on websites like uSwitch and Compare the Market then get in touch. Your new supplier will be able to help you with the switchover process.

Clear your guttering

Over time a build-up of foliage and other debris in your guttering can block the water flow leading to flooding and potential damage to the guttering itself. Keeping your gutters clear and taking steps to prune overhanging trees can reduce the risk of this happening. Here is an easy to follow guide to clearing your guttering.

Stock up on salt and sand

Reduce the risk of ice build-up on your paths, driveways and patios by stocking up on salt and sand supplies early. DIY stores will be the best option as most supermarkets won’t have any stocks available until the cold weather has kicked in.

Stock up on cold and flu medicine

Keep the sneezes and aches and pains at bay by making sure you’ve got some cold and flu medicine to hand. This makes life easier if you go to bed feeling fine and then wake up feeling unwell, saving you a visit to the chemist in the cold weather. 

Stock up on hot drinks and soups

Nothing takes the edge off a cold day like a warm bowl of soup or a freshly made cup of hot chocolate. Try to stock up when powdered hot chocolate and tinned soup is on offer as both items have a long storage life.

Keep a torch or two handy

As the days grow shorter you are going to become increasingly reliant on the lighting in your home. Having a torch or two handy with fully charged batteries can be extremely useful if you have a power cut or need to make a trip to the car or garage in darkness. Torches are also far more practical than fumbling around for matches and a candle in the dark.

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

It’s important to ensure that your alarms are in good working order and that the batteries are replaced regularly. If you are unable to do so you can make use of the free fire inspection services offered by your local fire company – which includes replacing your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms free of charge. Use this search tool to locate your nearest Fire and Rescue Service by postcode.

Order repeat prescriptions

If you have a repeat prescription try to get it filled in advance of the winter months. You may even be able to request a larger prescription from your GP to keep you stocked up for a longer period. If you do have to collect a prescription in the cold weather ensure it’s from somewhere local to avoid unnecessary travel

Protect against damp

During the winter months you are less likely to open your windows and this will have a significant impact on how well your home is ventilated. Poor ventilation can lead to a build of condensation within your home and increases the risk of damp/mildew forming. You can take steps to avoid this by ensuring extractor fans in your bathroom are working correctly and placing dehumidifiers in areas where condensation occurs – such as shower rooms and utility cupboards with tumble dryers.

Need expert assistance preparing for the winter?

Much of the information provided in this article has been kindly vetted by Emergency Response Group, who specialise in home maintenance services such as plumbing, electrical work and double glazing.

If you require professional help with anything home maintenance related then please don’t hesitate to give them a call on 0333 444 0137 or email them at info@emergencyresponsegroup.co.uk.

Tagged with:

  • DIY
  • Emergency Response Group
  • ERG
  • Home Maintenance
  • Winter
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SEO Manager Thomson Local

Rob has a decade of experience in SEO, Copywriting and Digital Marketing. He enjoys creative writing having previously written a humorous short book about life in retail as well as several film scripts. Like any self-respecting blogger he has a love of cats and enjoys a nice cup of tea. You can find out more about Rob via his LinkedIn and Writing Portfolio.

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