How do you create heat in an efficient way, prevent property disasters and keep energy bills in check when mother nature is throwing freezing rain, snow and sub zero temperatures our way? Here are our top 4 property tips for cold winter conditions.
1. Be heat smart: we may be a little more economical with our gas consumption thanks to rising fuel costs and climate change but it’s still possible to create a toasty warm home. If you have radiator thermostats, use them to only heat the rooms you’re using or turn down your main thermostat by one degree. You’ll still generate warmth by doing the latter but, according to uSwitch, you’ll save an average of £80 a year on your energy bill.
The jury’s still out on whether it’s best to keep your heating on low permanently over the winter or programme it to come on when it’s needed most. If you have a smart energy meter, you could try each method for two weeks and see what uses the least gas.
2. Stop warmth escaping: there’s no point creating warm air only for it to leak out and let a cold draught back in. Check for gaps around windows and doors, sealing with caulk and replacing weather stripping around doors if in poor repair. Even an old fashioned draught excluder will help if you feel a chill around your ankles.
You can use expanding foam insulation to fill large holes where pipes leave the property and if fireplaces are not in use, consider getting the flue capped. Don’t forget to check for draughts around cat flaps – you’ll be surprised how much warm air seeps out of a poorly fitted one.
3. Reduce the risk of leaks: Some of the most common insurance claims stem from water leaks, and the problem is exacerbated over winter. When water freezes in pipes, it expands and can cause the pipe or weak joints to burst open. A leak will start as soon as the water starts flowing again – if it’s a slow trickle or the property is vacant, the water damage may go unnoticed for months.
Use foam sleeves to lag pipes in lofts, garages and basements where it tends to be coldest, and don’t forget any pipes fixed to external walls and your boiler’s condensate pipe. If the latter freezers, the boiler will shut down when its needed most.
Another freeze prevention method is leaving the heating on low (13 degrees minimum) throughout cold snaps, even if no one is living in the property. If a property is vacant, it’s also wise to turn off the water from the mains stopcock.
4. Create a safe environment: everyone should get their boiler serviced on an annual basis, not just landlords. While you have a Gas Safe registered engineer in your property, it’s worth getting them to perform a health check on other gas-run appliances, such as hobs and fires, which may be used more heavily over winter.
As well as installing a carbon monoxide detector and checking it works on a regular basis, book a chimney sweep to prevent a deadly build-up of gas that a blocked flue may prevent escaping.
If you’d like to discuss winter proofing your property or you feel now’s the time to move on to somewhere new, give us a call today.