With the weather taking a definite turn for the worst, doing all we can to ensure our homes are winter-ready becomes a priority
If you're not sure what this involves, there's some good news for you - the experts at Hitachi Personal Finance have compiled a list of the ways we can look after and prepare our homes, and who knows? Maybe save some money in the process too...
An immediate change you should consider will be installing loft insulation. This can help you avoid losing too much heat through your roof and can also have a significant effect on your energy bills - it could result in a saving of up to £225 per year.
However, before you rush out to buy your own materials, it's worth doing some research to see if you could be eligible for any schemes.
Ricky Swann of Heat Insulation Ltd has advised: "The vast majority of loft insulation jobs can be paid for by a government grant, but people who go down the DIY route will often purchase the material themselves, as they do not know the grant exists. In cases where someone has undertaken a DIY job and then got damp, all the loft insulation will more than likely need replacing."
2. Pipe protection
Something that can be incredibly damaging to your property is ice and frost - it can lead to faulty or burst pipes, and often causes major water damage too. Yet taking some simple steps can help you avoid this.
An effective way to keep your pipes safe is making sure your water tank pipes are insulated, to ensure they're not threatened by freezing. Make sure you look out for any leaky taps too and get them fixed before temperatures begin plummeting - even a small drip can become a major leak.
3. Drain away
Look out for signs of blockages in your guttering and drainpipes. An excessive build-up of dirt and leaves in your gardens can all lead to leaks through the roof and walls.as they begin to overflow.
It's particularly important to be aware of this as insurance companies normally don't cover water damage if it could have been prevented through regular home maintenance.
4. Boiler care
Make sure you keep your boiler regularly checked and maintained - it's an essential part of being a homeowner, yet it's more important than ever during the winter.
It's likely to be working overtime as winter comes about, and let's be honest - a boiler breakdown is a guaranteed way to have a miserable winter. An efficient and well-maintained boiler also helps to cut the costs of heating bills in some cases too.
Take the time to look at your at your home insurance policy and make sure that everything is both up to date and covered. If you find something you're not covered for, call your insurer and discuss your policy - a little bit extra could be worth the peace of mind.
6. Switch energy supplies
It may feel like a bit of effort, but it could be worth looking for a new energy supplier. This is the time of year where you could find a range of offers, as companies look to entice new customers, so why not spend some time looking through some comparison sites and see where you can find the offer that best suits what you want. It could lead to a nice saving on bills in the long-run.
7. Radiator bleeding
Ah, bleeding a radiator! It's a simple job but often gets overlooked. It's basically when air is trapped in a radiator, and prevents it from properly heating up. This subsequently means you need to turn up the temperature, so the bills also start to rise.
If your radiators are making a clunking noise, it's time to bleed them. Switch on the heating to push out any trapped air, before looking for cold spots at the bottom of the radiator. Now, switch off the heating and place a towel beneath the radiator. Then, use a radiator key to turn the valve by a quarter turn - as the air escapes, you'll hear a hissing noise. As the hissing comes to an end, close the valve and repeat on other radiators as required. You can then re-pressurise your heating system by making sure the pressure on your boiler is set to 1.0 - 1.5 bar with the central filling loop which is connected to the boiler.
Another point to consider - you could always buy radiator insulation wall panels. These will reflex the heat back to your home, as opposed to seeing them lost through walls and windows.