Let it snow... but first weather proof your home!



"Oh the weather outside is frightful. But the fire is so delightful. And since we've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow."

Winter is coming, and you've heard the horror stories: the boiler that quit in the dead of winter; the huge heating bills; or the leaky roof that caused untold damage to your neighbour's walls, floors, and bank balance. The world may be getting warmer, but last December was the UK's wettest on record. Save your money and your sanity with these simple steps to protect your home.

"Turn down the thermostat once you have sneaky draughts properly checked and plugged, or do it yourself with draught proof strips made of foam, metal, or plastic."

Avoid a boiler breakdown

Before the winter chill kicks in, have your boiler serviced. You can also help maintain its smooth running by warming it up before you truly need it full-time, and by checking the pressure levels for anything out of the ordinary. To save energy, and to keep your boiler in a better mood, run it consistently at a lower temperature (rather than blasting it and then shutting it off when you're warm). Finally, to guard against ever experiencing life in an igloo, invest in boiler cover and your boiler will be serviced annually, and also repaired in the event of a mid-winter emergency.

Examine your roof

Your roof protects you and your family all year long, but it takes a particular beating during the wet winter months. Even the slightest hint of an issue during this time can result in a deluge of problems, so vigilant maintenance is key. Before winter, examine your roof tiles, shingles, or timber for any decay, breakage, or accumulation of debris. While there, look for telltale signs of animals that may be nesting, roosting, or rooting around, poking holes under your roof. If you have a flat, or low-pitched roof, consider buying a synthetic roofing membrane for extra protection. Also identify, and trim, any surrounding trees or branches that look like they might cause trouble if they’re toppled during a storm.

Include draught excluders

You want good ventilation in your home, which you can regulate with vents and fans. However, poorly fitted windows, doors, loft hatches and letterboxes, often have gaps that leak cold air that not only wastes energy, but can blow your budget. You'll be able to turn down the thermostat once you have sneaky draughts properly checked and plugged, or do it yourself with draught proof strips made of foam, metal, or plastic. Caulk any suspended floorboards, and for open flues, buy a chimney draught excluder. Little things, such as keyhole covers and keeping curtains closed overnight, can also make a big difference toward reducing heating bills and keeping your home warm and cosy.

Spend time in the gutter

Clogged gutters can cause internal leaks that wreak havoc inside your home, and destroy the outside of your walls as well. Clean them out and sweep out the drains to allow rainwater to follow its destiny -- outside and away. If you clean your own gutter, take care to avoid accident. Spending time on a ladder can be dangerous, but it can also pay dividends. Consider the UK pensioner who left £500,000 in his will to the neighbour who cleaned his gutters for free!

Save your pipes

Heading off on a holiday trip? It's natural to lock the house, but also consider leaving the heat on low, so you don't run the added risk of a pipe bursting and leaving water damage in its wake. Burst pipes are nightmare scenario by any metric, so it's wise to invest in insulating them, which will also help your boiler operate more efficiently.

Insulate the loft… Even if it's already insulated

Insulating your loft can save an average of £240 on your annual fuel bill. Is yours already insulated? Check its thickness with a measuring tape. The recommended thickness is 270mm, so if yours doesn't size up– pack on more. It makes sense both environmentally and financially to install proper insulation. On average, it takes only two years to make its money back. And it should last for at least 42 years.

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    Alison Miller, Editor

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