Beat the cold and get your house wrapped up this winter
As we pack away the Christmas cards we received this year and give one last smile to one depicting snow-drenched houses glistening under a winter moon, we may not be warming to the fact that spring will soon be on its way. In fact, some of us will be feeling that winter chill even more! If this sounds like you, it may be time to give the house a spring clean in winter!
Now, this is cleaning with a twist: instead of focusing on the inside of the house, we are going to work on the outside. So climb that ladder - not only to success, but to the guttering! With the piggy bank still feeling rather poorly from that raid at Christmas, the last thing we need right now is a hefty bill for damages caused by a blocked gutter or leaky roof.
Gutters that are filled with debris will stop rain water from flowing through. If this is allowed to continue, your home could become damp. Worse still, if it freezes, the weight could cause the guttering to come away from the outside wall. This is something that your insurer is likely to class as "wear and tear" so you will not be able to claim it on your policy.
Whilst you still have your feet firmly placed on that ladder, you may also want to check for any loose or cracked tiles on the roof, which will also cause rain water to trickle through and cause structural damage. Do this sooner rather than later as a freak storm could make it unsafe for a roofer to stand on.
Heading for a cold spot
If some parts of your home feel colder than others, draught may be coming in through the windows and doors. Invest in some foam strips and draught excluders to plug out all those chilly spots. These can be purchased from your local DIY store. Draught excluders are economical and can save you up to £25 in fuel costs per year. Complement this with a pair of heavy curtains and you could retain up to 41 per cent more heat than you have now.
Let the warmth radiate
A great way to get maximum heat from your radiators is to cover them with reflector foil. This is a cheap and easy way to increase their efficiency as it bounces warmth back into room rather than through the wall.
Arrange for an engineer to check that your heating is running efficiently. Radiators should be bled regularly to remove trapped air from the pipes which allows heat to be distributed evenly.
When your home is running at this level of efficiency, you may not need to have the radiators up so high. Reduce the thermostat by just one degree and you could save approximately £55 per year!
You could even invest in some thermostatic radiator valves which allow you to control the output of each radiator. Rooms hardly used can be reduced to a lower setting, thus cutting costs even further.
Scan the Gas Safe Register and book a full boiler service which will set you back a mere £50 - £160. A repair bill could well run into £600!
Is all of this a waste of energy?
Have you ever considered switching your energy provider? By comparing the price of your recent bill with that of other providers, you may discover that you are paying up to £400 more with your present company. Visit some comparison websites and check to see if you can get those fuel bills lowered.
If you do not have cavity wall insulation, you are losing a third of your heat through the walls. This will rack up an extra £120 per year on your fuel bill. Have it fitted now and in a couple of years, it will have literally have paid for itself.
Look to the roof
Up to 25 per cent of heat is lost through the roof so you really should have your loft insulated. The price? Around £250 for installation, but once again, this can be recouped in just six years. If you already have loft insulation, you may want to take note of the thickness. The most recommended size is 27 cm. The thicker the insulation, the warmer the heat, and the lower your bill.
So get your skates on and start to enjoy the rest of the winter. Now your home will be burning with energy at prices which are well insulated against inflation.