1. Block the breeze
Seal all doors and windows properly to stop warm air escaping and cold air getting in. Check that existing seals are still in tact and repair any cracks or holes that have formed. For a quick and easy solution, fit doors with draught excluders to keep rooms warm and to prevent energy wastage.
2. Take care of your heating system
‘It is vital to make sure that your boiler is working properly before winter sets in and the older your boiler, the more inefficient it will be. If you have a pressure gauge, make sure the boiler is at the right pressure and top up as necessary,’ Sheena Anker, engineer at British Gas, advises. Make sure that you service your boiler at least once a year to ensure it is safe to operate. ‘It’s also a good idea to insulate your hot water tank: the materials can be purchased from most DIY stores and help to conserve heat and save you money.’
3. Clear your gutters
Check gutters and downspouts for debris and leaves and clear regularly to prevent blockages in heavy rain. Doing this simple bit of home maintenance could prevent internal damp from external walls being soaked by leaking gutters.
4. Secure your home
Research suggests that 56 per cent of burglaries happen at night, with 73 per cent of burglars using doors to enter a property. In three per cent of cases the door is unlocked, according to SafeChoice, so make sure your entrances, such as front, back and side gates are all secured with bolts, and update old or worn front door locks to a multi-point system, which make it far more difficult to force entry.
5. Maintain your property’s exterior
If your home is exposed to the wind, winter rain can be driven into the masonry and potentially lead to damp. Ensure defects such as cracked render, gaps around windows, broken guttering and downpipes and leaking roofs are sealed to prevent water infiltrating the brickwork and plaster.
6. Tend to the garden
‘Trim trees and hedges, removing dead or weak branches, to prevent them coming down in windy weather and causing damage to your property,’ says Kevin Byrne, founder of Checkatrade.com. ‘Carrying our basic maintenance tasks now will help to keep your property safe, warm and secure when colder weather arrives.’
7. Clean the drains
‘If you’re trying to keep your drains outside well maintained, it’s a good idea to make sure they are clear of debris such as fallen leaves,’ advises Sheena Anker, engineer at British Gas. ‘This involves checking your gullies to ensure that they don’t restrict water flow at any point in the system.’
8. Insulate your pipes
Burst pipes are a huge issue for UK households during winter months, according to British Gas. To help prevent burst pipes, ensure all pipes are properly insulated by using lagging, which can be bought cheaply from most DIY shops.
9. Fix broken gates and fences
Taking care of any damaged fencing in the autumn will prevent further breakages during the winter months when strong winds, rain and freezing conditions may exacerbate the problem and cost more to replace.
10. Look after your chimney
A messy job, but a worthwhile one, nonetheless. If you have an open fire or stove, make sure the outlet for fumes is clear to ensure that the system works effectively. You can do this yourself with a chimney brush or seek a local tradesperson to do it for you. Alternatively, if you have an open fireplace that is not in use, consider using a chimney balloon to fill the void to prevent cold air coming down and lowering the room temperature.