How to prepare your home for winter in 6 simple steps

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The clocks have gone back, the big coat has come out of mothballs, and we’ve had to scrape the first morning frost from our windscreens – it’s time to prepare for winter.

The winter months not only play havoc with your energy bills, as the heating is cranked up, more hot meals are cooked, and clothes can’t be left to drip-dry outside, the cold, rain, and wind can play havoc with your home, potentially causing serious damage that can land you with some eye-popping repair bills.

So it makes sense to get your home ready for winter, both inside and out – here’s how…

How to get your home ready for winter

1. Get your boiler serviced

A cold-snap can put pressure on your boiler, particularly if it’s barely been used during the warmer months, and if your system suddenly packs in, you face the prospect of being without heating or paying a hefty fee to repair or replace it.

So make sure your boiler is fighting fit for the winter months by booking it in for a service with a Gas Safe registered engineer, and consider taking out boiler cover if you haven’t already done so.

Having boiler cover in place means a qualified engineer will always be on hand to sort out any problems with your boiler or central heating as quickly as possible - it may seem like an unnecessary expense now, but could prove invaluable if the worst actually happens.

And make sure your bleed your radiators, so they’re working at full capacity – if you’re not sure how this is done, take a look at How to bleed your radiator in five simple steps.

2. Get rid of gutter clutter

Wet leaves, mud and moss can be a disaster for your building if you allow it to build up in gutters and drains, as it can cause blockages that can lead to water leaking into the roof and walls.

If outside drains are blocked, this can even lead to flooding if we get a particularly bad downpour.

So, as soon as the weather permits, get the gardening gloves on, get outside and clear your gutters and drains of any debris.

3. Get your loft insulated

Around a quarter of the heat in your house will escape through the roof, so ensuring your home is properly insulated can have a considerable impact on your energy bills. Figures from the Energy Saving Trust show that just insulating your loft with 270mm of roll can shave up to £225 off your annual energy bills if you live in a detached house, £135 if you have a semi-detached, £120 for a mid-terrace, and £195 for a detached bungalow.

Loft insulation costs are generally upwards of about £285, so it’s worth finding out if you’re eligible for any of the government’s energy efficiency grants. Find out more at GOV.UK.

And make sure the loft hatch closes properly and is insulated against draughts, speaking of which…

4. Get your home draught-proofed

Hot air can escape, and cold air can enter, through the tiniest cracks in doors and window panes, so make sure all openings are draught-proofed – if you don’t have uPVC windows and doors, it might be worth fitting self-adhesive insulation strips around the frames, and put draught excluders by the bottom of any draughty doors.

It’s also worth fitting a letterbox brush to stops draughts entering, and fitting escutcheon plates on any keyholes, as well as making sure any functioning chimneys are swept. If you have any open chimneys that aren’t used, you should also insulate them with something like the Chimney Sheep.

And consider cavity-wall insulation if it’s not already installed – find out more at the Energy Saving Trust.

5. Get your pipes protected

Burst pipes are a common problem during winter, especially after a cold snap – if they’re not properly protected, they can freeze up and then burst when they thaw rapidly. And a burst pipe can quickly lead to flooding and some serious damage to your house and its contents.

So make sure they’re fully insulated and protected  with a foam layer, known as lagging, that will help stop them freezing and bursting. And if you’re going away during the winter, set the heating to come on for at least an hour a day to further minimise the risk of them freezing.

6. Get busy with our top tips to keep warm for free this winter

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Click here to run an energy price comparison, and see if you could be paying less for your gas and electricity.

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