Preparing for cold weather during the summertime might seem a bit odd. But once winter arrives it can make certain tasks, like clearing the gutters and checking your roof, a whole lot more difficult! So, to save you climbing ladders in the snow, or spending more than you ought to on your heating bills, we’ve put together a few simple tips for winter-proofing your home ahead of the next cold snap.
Invest in your insulation
‘Did you know that up to a quarter of your home’s heat might be escaping through the roof? So even if you already have loft insulation, it’s worth checking that it meets the recommended 250mm to 270mm depth before the winter sets in. If fitted properly, loft insulation can last up to 40 years and the typical installation fee is between £285 and £395, so it’ll pay for itself many times over with the savings on your energy bills! The Energy Saving Trust’s helpful guide to loft insulation is well worth reading.
Declutter your gutters
Clearing out the gutter might not be everyone’s idea of a fun weekend, but whilst the weather is kind, it’s a great time to clear the debris left behind by high winds and rain. Good drainage prevents a multitude of water-related problems — from seeping damp to full-on leaks — and proper gutter maintenance is usually necessary for insurance purposes. So clear those leaves and sticks to protect your home from water damage when the weather turns.
Keep your boiler ticking over
It’s a good idea to switch your boiler on once a week during the warmer months, just for 15 minutes or so. This will keep it “well-oiled” and prevent it from seizing up when winter arrives. As the weather starts to cool down again, revert to switching the heating on daily, for an hour (or more if needed). Set a timer so that this can happen even if you’re away, then you won’t risk coming back to an expensive breakdown at the worst possible time.
Keep your pressure in check
Give your boiler pressure a check-up before things turn cold. It’ll run best at around 1 to 1.5 bar, and you can check this via the gauge on the front of your boiler unit. See our handy guide to correcting boiler pressure issues if you need to adjust yours.
Give your radiators some attention
Bleeding radiators will not only increase their heat efficiency, it’ll save you money on your heating bills too. It’s quick and easy to do and relatively disruption-free while the weather’s warm. So, if they’re cold at the top and hot at the bottom, see our step-by-step video for instructions on how to bleed your radiators and save yourself a cold and costly winter!
Service your boiler during the summer
‘Servicing your boiler annually can stop any minor problems becoming bigger ones, and should ensure that your heating sees you through the winter months. Make sure you get it done when the weather’s warmer and you shouldn’t find yourself faced with the nightmare of no hot water or heating when it’s cold outside.
Lag your pipes
Insulated tubing for your pipes costs next to nothing and you can buy it from most DIY stores, and fit it yourself! So, wrap those pipes up warm ahead of winter to prevent freezing and heat loss. You’ll want to concentrate on those that carry hot water from your boiler or cylinder to your hot water taps. These might be found in airing cupboards, next to your boiler — between the boiler and hot water tank — and under your kitchen and bathroom sinks.
Draught-proof doors and windows
Even with your heating running efficiently and your roof insulated, you’ll be losing heat through your doors and windows. So minimise the amount of heat lost by checking for draughts. Draught excluders are a cheap and effective way of winter-proofing your doorways. And there are a variety of simple methods to seal up gaps around your windows, from caulk to DIY window insulation kits.
Service your roof
Cracked or lost roof tiles can lead to leaks and flooding. And they can even invalidate your home insurance if improper upkeep leads to weather damage. So don’t wait to see what happens when winter comes. Have a look and see if you can spot any issues from street level, or from a neighbouring property. If you don’t feel comfortable climbing a ladder, have a professional come and tackle any problem areas for you.
Make a plan
Do you know where your stopcock is? In the (rare) event that your pipes do freeze up you’ll want to prevent a build-up of pressure forming behind the blockage and leading to a burst pipe. So familiarise yourself with the whereabouts of your stopcock — a little tap or lever on your copper pipes, which is often under a sink — and make sure that you can access it easily.