Now that you’ve probably turned the heating on, and for the lucky ones, are thinking about lighting the open fire, you’ve probably started to notice all those unpleasant draughts that you’ve forgotten about from last year.
And of course, with winter comes those dreaded utility bills. The average household energy bill has gone up by 18 per cent in the last year (despite a massive decline in the wholesale price of gas). So this year it’s time to invest a little of that hard-earned cash into winter-proofing your home.
So here’s what you need to consider before the weather really gets going.
This is the most important investment, the most expensive, and the one that will save you the most money in the long run. Condensing boilers are the most efficient and if your current boiler is more than 15 years old and you replace it, adding a new set of heating controls, you can expect to save a quarter on your bills, and reduce your carbon dioxide emissions.
Make sure all your pipes are lagged to prevent them from freezing. Repair any dripping taps and leave the plugs in sinks in frosty weather, otherwise water can freeze in the pipes. Find out where your stop tap is so that if there is a flood you can turn the water off.
Gutters and drains
All those golden leaves might look pretty while they’re on the trees but once they start falling, they’re just going to clog up your gutters and drains. This will eventually block them, meaning the water has nowhere to go, apart from spilling over and running down the wall and then you’ve got damp and possibly internal leaks. Take half an hour to examine your house for possible problems – loose bricks or cracks – then make a list and call in a roofer before the problems, and the weather, get any worse..
December is usually one of the wettest months of the year, so before it starts its worth checking for any loose tiles and getting them fixed before you have a major leak on your hands.
Warm up – and beat the bills
Paula Owen of Energy Saving Trust offers the following advice on how to save energy and cut down on your bills this winter:
* Turning the thermostat down by 1C could cut heating bills by 10 per cent and save around £55 a year.
* The cylinder thermostat should be set at 60C for the hot water supply.
* Make sure to close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows.
* Fix dripping taps – a leaky hot tap can waste enough water to fill half a bath in one week.
* Do a home energy check at www.energysavingtrust.org.uk and we will give you a free impartial report telling you how you can save up to £330 a year on household bills.
Weather-proof your home this winter, it’s one of the best investments you can make.