Have you seen the gentle sprinkle of snowfall outside your window? Have you felt the persistent chill that sneaks into your home when you forget that you’ve left your window open? It can only mean one thing. As they say in the fictional land of Westeros… winter is coming! A fact that may be of some concern to UK energy consumers. After all, we’ve all heard about the skyrocketing prices of wholesale gas, and the energy price increases that householders have felt in the latter half of 2021.

And yet, all of this pales in comparison to the costs you’ll incur if something should go awry with your new boiler. But destiny favours the prepared, and here we’ll look at 7 steps you can take to prepare your home for winter, and save yourself from unnecessary costs.

Why is it important to prepare your home for winter?
For starters, without proper preparation, you’ll find that your home may be much colder, draughtier and more uncomfortable than it should be. Inevitably, you’ll have to turn up the heating to compensate, and that will drive your energy bills higher. 

What’s more, the cold weather places greater strain on your boiler and pipes. Unless they’re winter-ready, you could face something as expensive and disruptive as a boiler failure or a burst water pipe. 

Something that no household needs over the festive season!

How to prepare your home for the cold months?

Fear not. Often all that’s needed to protect your home and prevent your bills from skyrocketing in the winter months is a little forward planning and diligence. 

Here are 7 steps that all households should take to prepare their homes for the winter.

1. Test your heating system

It’s generally a good idea to test your heating system before you need to rely on it heavily. When the system is cool, turn off your hot water and set the thermostat to 0. Next, turn on your boiler and turn up your thermostat. Listen out for the sound it makes when it fires up. 

Wait around 10 minutes, then check every radiator in your home to ensure that they are all heated up evenly. Return the thermostat to 0 and turn off the central heating on the boiler unit. If it turns itself off your boiler is fully functional.

2. Service your boiler
Annual boiler servicing is very important. Not only does it help to ensure that your boiler is operating as well and efficiently as possible, it’s also very important for the safety of your household. An unserviced boiler is more likely to develop faults, and may burn fuel less efficiently. This can not only increase your heating bills, but can also carry a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Many boiler cover plans include annual servicing as well as substantially saving on the cost of repairs if something goes awry.  

3. Insulate your pipes

In extreme cold, water can freeze in your pipes. The ice in your pipes may then expand, causing them to rupture. This can make for a very costly and disruptive repair. So make sure that you insulate your pipes and any gaps left in areas where your pipes go through a wall. You can use insulating strips, or foam sleeves. Getting cavity wall insulation can also help to protect your pipes. If you have a garden tap, make sure the flow of water is shut off and that the tap is left to run dry to protect the pipe from the cold weather.  

4. Inspect your fireplace

If you have a coal or log burning fire, you may want to give this a quick inspection before winter settles in. Be sure to check for cracks, gaps, or other signs of wear in the lining of the interior (the firebox). Look out for smoke stains on the ceiling. These can be indicative of a gap somewhere between the hearth and the firebox, which is fairly common in older properties.

5. Insulate the windows

Your windows can be a major source of heating loss. Even if you have double glazed windows. Be sure to insulate your windows and frames by checking the sealant around the window frame and replacing it where needed. Rope caulk can be used to fill in cracks, while vinyl tape can be a good way to temporarily insulate window trims in the colder months. You can even apply a transparent film to your windows which is shrink-wrapped onto the panes using a hairdryer. 

6. Check your roof

Did you know that around 25% of your home’s heating can escape through your roof? Loose roof tiles can be a source of both heat loss and moisture ingress. Both of which can cause problems in the winter months. Before the winter sets in, you may want to inspect your roof and attic. Look for any signs of water ingress, and check for any damage to your insulation such as rodent damage or puddles of water.

7. Clear out gutters and downspouts

During the autumn months, it’s common for gutters to get clogged with falling leaves. Be sure to clean these out of gutters and downspouts before winter sets in. Otherwise, water will collect and pool in your guttering. If this is allowed to freeze, it can cause heaving and cracks that could cause serious damage. 

How can this lower your energy bills?

Carrying out the steps above can improve your home’s insulation and target common sources of heat loss in winter. This in turn could lead to savings on your energy bills. Something that’s more important than ever in the current energy market crisis. Wholesale gas prices have climbed by 250% this year, leading to a substantial increase in heating costs for many. Any step you can take to reduce heat waste and use less gas is absolutely worth considering.

Should you check your energy plan?

How long has it been since you last switched energy suppliers or plans? After your fixed-rate energy tariff expires, you’re typically placed on the supplier’s standard variable tariff. Which is usually its most expensive

Even in the current market, there’s an opportunity to save on your energy by switching tariffs. Check your tariff and carry out a price comparison before the cold months to see if there are cheaper deals available in your area.

Author: Londonlad

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