With reports that the UK will see one of the coldest winters on record this year, it’s important you know how to winter proof your home to avoid any costly disasters.
September and October are the perfect time to start thinking about winter-proofing your house. While the sun still has his hat on, give your house a winter MOT and make sure you don’t end up with some nasty surprises when the cold sets in.
Reasons for winter-proofing your house are endless; nobody wants to sit shivering in the comfort of their own home, or be stuck with a hefty bill and clean-up operation if a frozen pipe bursts. But, by doing simple things, such as improving your roof insulation, you can also dramatically cut your energy bills and reduce your CO2 emissions to boot.
How to winter proof your home on the outside
Check your pipes
Ensure that all pipes in non-heated parts of the home, such as the loft, are well insulated. Insulating materials are readily available in DIY stores. It is best to remind yourself where all your stop taps are too – just in case the worst does happen. As the Scouts say – Be Prepared!
Check your roof and gutters
Or get someone to do it for you. Any loose tiles on your roof will probably come down when the winter winds pick up. Your roof is then exposed to the elements, which can easily lead to expensive leaks. Blocked gutters can also cause problems, particularly if the overspill lands on your lovely conservatory roof!
Check your garden
Are there any large trees that could harm your property if they come down? Any creepers beautifully climbing up the walls of your ancient home? As pretty as they may look, these plants can damage the exterior brickwork of your property, leaving it susceptible to cracks. Moisture in these cracks during wintertime can freeze and exacerbate the problems.
How to winter proof your home on the inside
- Give your boiler a service, particularly if it is an older model.
- Ensure you have cavity wall and loft insulation. There are a number of grants available to help with the cost of insulating your home and you will notice a huge decrease in your energy bills once it is done.
- Draught-proof your windows and doors. Many people forget to do this, but it will make a noticeable, positive, difference to your energy bills.
- Fit heavy curtains to your windows and close them as soon as it gets dark outside. They will help to keep the heat in once the temperature falls outside. But don’t let them cover radiators as this will prevent the heat escaping to warm your room.
Once you have carried out a winter MOT your home is likely to be far more energy efficient than before. Try turning down your heating a degree or two. It is now unlikely to make your home feel colder, but it will help your heating costs fall.
Don’t forget to winter proof your garden
With the hot, summer sun a distant memory, your garden is now probably a long forgotten place. But by ensuring you give it a little bit of TLC before winter really sets in, you will save yourself a lot of time and effort when the sun makes a reappearance next year.
Green, green, grass
Sow a new lawn, lay turf or simply just sow seeds in any bare patches while there is still time for the grass seeds to germinate. Use a medium height blade when mowing. You should also tackle weeds this month.
Top tip – do your weeding after a shower; dig out any deep roots like dandelions, pull out daisies and use a hand fork to remove any large clumps of spreading weeds like clover. Add an autumn lawn food to get the lawn ready for winter.
Add a splash of colour to existing pots or hanging baskets where the summer bedding season has finished. I suggest chrysanthemums, asters, winter pansies and primroses. You can make stunning new pots to last all through the winter period. Don’t forget to water well after planting even if we have rain!
Getting ready for spring
For spring colour in your garden, you need to plant your bulbs in the ground soon, before it gets too cold. Well drained but sunny sites are the best location for most spring bulbs. Use a trowel or bulb planter to make a hole for the bulb three times the depth of the bulb you are planting. There is a great range of bulbs in garden centres this time of year so buy them now even if you are saving them for pots to plant later.
Top tip: Don’t forget to label what you have planted.
You need to lift main crop potatoes and pick your beans. Harvest your onion sets and let them dry naturally.
Looking after your perennials
Cut back hardy perennials to the ground when they look untidy and have finished flowering. Do this before the ground becomes too wet and you make a mess of your border or your kitchen floor! Stems can go on the compost heap as long as there is no visible disease like mildew.
Treat your garden to new plants
Autumn is a great time for planting trees, shrubs and hardy plants to give you good autumn colour that can last throughout winter.
Don’t forget to feed the birds high energy foods like meal-worm and sunflower hearts until the berries and seed heads in the garden arrive.
By following Karl’s top tips you will have your garden in tip top shape before the autumn leaves start to fall
Don’t forgot about home security this winter
With less hours of daylight, Halifax suggests that there are almost 25% more home insurance claims for burglary in winter than there are in summer. This is further supported by Aviva, who claim that household thefts rise by 5% in the week that clocks go back alone.
So, at this time of years it’s especially important to think about home security. What can you do to make your home as secure as possible in the autumn and winter months? Here are our top tips!
Remove criminals’ biggest advantage:
Darker evenings make it easier to watch properties and approach them unchallenged. The easiest way to improve your home security and remove this advantage is to install reliable external security lighting.
Think about boundaries:
Talking about the exterior of your property, it’s important to think about access points. Where might a criminal try to access your property from and how well protected is it? When it comes to home security measures and property boundaries, spiky plants make a great natural deterrent.
It is always worth investing in a home security alarm and/or cctv; neither or which are as costly as you may first assume. Gravel driveways also provide a great addition to your property, enabling you to hear any visitors approaching, both wanted and unwanted!
Keep all doors and windows locked. Now is a great time of year to check all locks are secure and in good condition. Call a locksmith without delay if you have any locks that need repairing or replacing.
Invest in timers for your internal lighting if you usually get home from work after it gets dark, or are planning to go away at all in the coming months. You can set them to come on as it starts getting dark and it will give the illusion of someone being at home – if in doubt a criminal is unlikely to risk entering the property.
Don’t give any clues that you’re not home:
If you are planning to go away at all, or your property will be vacant for any other reason, make sure you don’t let post pile up. Piles of post by the door are a sure sign to criminals that your property is unoccupied. This will make your home a prime target.
Don’t hide spare keys:
It can be tempting to leave a spare key somewhere on the property, but it’s the first thing criminals will look for and the easiest way for them to gain access to your property. Instead, leave a spare key with a friend or trusted neighbour for emergencies.
Put any tools and equipment away and out of sight. You want to make it as difficult as possible to enter your property, not provide the tools for the job!
Now we think your house should be set for winter!!