Christmas may have passed but it still feels like the coldest time of the year is upon us and for some of us Storm Christoph has arrived or is on its way!
Where we have been preoccupied with dealing with the consequences of COVID-19, it is understandable if preparing our homes for the worse that winter can throw at us has not been at the top of your to-do lists.
However, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the extreme freeze that hit the UK for a three month period in 2018 resulted in insurers paying a record amount for burst pipes, c. £194 million!
Even with the current restrictions and the threat of another freeze before Spring, there is still time to act and here are some tips for you and your customers to keep homes ‘winter proof’. Many of these suggestions were chosen as they do not require more than rudimentary DIY skills and commons sense.
Outside the home
If you have a head for heights and someone to hold your ladder, clearing your gutters ensures that rainfall is efficiently disbursed. Blocked drains , caused by falling leaves and other debris, can cause damp and mould to grow on outside walls as well as making it more likely that gutters can degrade and break.
Identify those branches that, in a high wind or under significant snowfall, could break and cause structural damage to your home, sheds or outbuildings. Where you can safely manage, remove those branches.
Secure or put away outside furniture and any structures that can become dangerous in bad weather, especially strong winds.
Lastly don’t ignore security. With the longest hours of darkness at this time of year, the purchase of simple timers to turn on lights when you are out of the house can be one of the most effective deterrents against opportunistic burglary. With technology improving and becoming cheaper all the time, consider installing ‘stick on’ motion sensor lights outside your doors. Not only will they help you get into your property but will also act as a further disincentive to would be burglars.
Outside the home
Install a carbon monoxide alarm
Household appliances such as fires, boilers and heaters can cause carbon monoxide leaks. With doors and windows closed at this time of year, it is vital that you have a tried and tested means of warning.
Insulate your hot water tank
Cutting heating loss is vital. You can buy suitable cladding or a jacket for your hot water cylinder which over the course of the next two years will cancel out the cost of the insulation as well as stopping heat from hot water escaping.
Time to find or buy a radiator key to check that they are running as efficiently as possible. Bleeding the radiator releases the trapped air and is one of the simplest tasks you can do yourself. Bleeding radiators regularly will help keep your home warm as air does get in and efficiency plummets.
A must to prepare for the winter period particularly but the regular maintenance schedule of your boiler might have been disrupted because of the lockdowns. However, plumbers are allowed to work in homes during lockdown, provided social distancing rules are observed. Book a plumber even if there is a delay before you get an appointment at this time.
Curtains for insulation
Curtains are not just for decoration or privacy at night. They play an important role in keeping the heat in and the cold out. Consider ordering thicker curtains which can be changed out depending on the season. Even if you only do the room in which you spend the most time, such as the living room, closing curtains early and putting up thicker versions can make a significant difference.