Preparing your home for winter

Now that we’re in autumn, you may have already reached for the central heating controls. While fully functioning central heating is no doubt important, there are plenty of other steps you can take to keep your home warm throughout the cold winter months.

These steps will not only help to keep your home more comfortable but will also help you to save money on your heating bills. And, with Christmas just around the corner, who doesn’t want a little extra cash lying around?

Read on to discover the best ways to prepare your home for winter.

Insulate your home

Insulation is the easiest way to make your home warmer and to keep it warm through every winter. By installing loft insulation you could save up to £215 a year on your energy bills, depending on your home. The recommended thickness for loft insulation is 270mm. And, with energy bills on the increase, these savings could be a lot more in the coming years.

Insulating your home doesn’t stop with the loft. You can also look into insulating your walls with cavity insulation. Without proper insulation, you lose around 35% of the heat from your home through its walls.

Once you have insulated your loft, remember that any water pipes above the insulation will now be in a much colder space. To remedy this, and to prevent a burst water pipe from ruining your home and costing you more money, you should also insulate your pipes by using something known as lagging. These foam tubes simply slide over the exposed pipes to help prevent them from freezing.

And finally, if you have an old-style water cylinder for your hot water, you could save money by adding an insulating jacket. This kind of insulation should only be added to older style water cylinders as pre-insulated water heaters will not require it.

Stop the draughts

When the temperature starts to fall, it’s a great time to figure out if you have any draughts in your home that need to be sealed up.

On a blustery day, check around your windows with your hand to see if you can feel a cold draught. It could be the result of loose hinges or loose handles which may simply need to be tightened or adjusted. If you cannot seal the source of the draught, you can remedy this by putting up thick, insulated curtains.

You should also check around external doors for draughts. For example, a broken letterbox cover can let in a surprising amount of cold air, so this should be fixed before winter arrives.

And finally, if you have exposed wooden floorboards, check if a draught is making its way through these. You can purchase long strips of foam which can be forced into the gaps between floorboards to prevent draughts.

Check your boiler

Before we get into the deepest depths of winter, you should make sure that your boiler and central heating system are working as they should be. If you have home and boiler cover, you should schedule your boiler service, before winter. This is because winter is often the busiest time for boiler breakdowns and repairs so you may be left waiting a long time for a registered gas engineer to attend.

Bleed your radiators

The first time you turn your heating on for the winter, check all the radiators in your home to make sure they are working properly. Run your hand over all sections of the radiator, top and bottom, but be careful not to burn yourself. 

If you notice any cold spots on your radiators, particularly at the top, this can mean that you may need to bleed your radiators. See our guide on how to do this here.

Check the exterior of your home

The inside of your home isn’t the only area that needs attention. After the autumn leaves have fallen, these can build up in your gutters and drains and can cause problems inside your home. Blocked or broken gutters can allow water into your home through the roof. A blocked drain grate can also allow water to collect around your property which can lead to water damage.

Before winter sets in, make sure that you check your gutters and remove any build-up of leaves, moss or other debris. 

  • Use a sturdy ladder and hook your bucket to the gutter using an S hook. This will leave you with two hands free, one to hold on to the ladder and the other to collect the debris.
  • Once all the leaves and any other debris have been removed use a hosepipe to thoroughly clear away any residue.
  • It would be a good idea to fit covers over the drain holes. This will prevent further build-up of leaves or anything else that could block the drain.

Above all else, you should always make sure that you are safe when carrying out any of this work.