How to prepare your home for winter

4 minute read

Pretty village covered in snow

When the nights begin closing in and the weather starts growing colder, it's worth taking a moment to make sure your home is ready for winter. Here are some top maintenance tips to consider for those colder months.

Winter can be a wonderful time of year to settle down and relax at home. However, weather at this time of year can pose some issues if your property isn’t properly prepared. In this article, we’ll look at ways to combat cold and wet weather, so you can stay happily snuggled up throughout the season.


Bleed your radiators*

Over time, air bubbles can gather in your radiator. The trapped air prevents the radiator from filling with water fully, which means it won’t heat your home as efficiently and can lead to higher energy bills.

If the top of your radiator is much cooler than the bottom, then it may need bleeding. You can bleed your radiators easily yourself; all you need is a radiator key.

How to bleed a radiator

  • Have a cloth or towel at hand to catch any water
  • Insert your radiator key into the bleed valve
  • Turn the key anti-clockwise until you hear a hissing noise
  • Close the valve once the water starts to leak out
  • Twist the key clockwise and make sure it's nice and tight

For further guidance on safely bleeding a radiator, see this helpful video.


Clear drains and guttering*

Fallen leaves and debris can build up in guttering and weigh it down, causing cracks and blockages, so it’s important to clear your gutters before the cold and frosty weather sets in.

Trimming branches from nearby trees can help minimise the problem and will also help prevent damage to your home during stormy weather. It’s also important to clear leaves from your drains, as a blocked drain paired with a heavy winter downpour could create a flood risk.


Insulate your home*

Without proper insulation, any heat you create will easily escape from your home. By double-checking your insulation, you can not only stay warm through the season, but you might also spend less on your energy bills.

Here are common ways to boost your home’s insulation:

  • Check your loft, as most heat escapes through this area. Providing you have easy access and no dampness/leaks/hazardous materials are present, you might be able to add insulation yourself. Otherwise, there are professionals who can step in to help.
  • See if your walls have cavities. Though cavity walls are often more effective than their single brick counterparts, sometimes this cavity can let heat escape. However, filling a cavity isn’t a DIY job and you’ll need to consult with a specialist about adding extra insulation here.
  • Purchase draught excluders, these can help minimise heat escaping under doors and around windows.
  • Assess your windows, as faults in the glass or frame can be a top contributor to heat loss. If you have single glazing, you might also consider an upgrade to double/triple glazing.
  • Insulate your water pipes to prevent them from freezing, and make yourself aware of where your stop tap is in case you need to shut off your water supply in an emergency.

*Always be cautious when undertaking any DIY tasks you aren’t familiar with. Seek professional help where needed.


Invest in smart heating solutions

There’s a wide range of smart thermostats on the market and at a variety of price points. These clever gadgets enable you to control your heating remotely, meaning you can schedule your heating to come on while you’re on your way home so it’s warm once you arrive.

If you combine a smart thermostat with a Thermostatic Radiator Value (TRV) then they can also detect when you’ve left the house and can enable you to adjust the temperature of each room in your house individually. This means you don’t need to rely on switches or timers to save money on your energy bills.

White thermostat hanging on a wall

Check if you qualify for the Winter Fuel Allowance

The Winter Fuel Payment, or Winter Fuel Allowance, is available to all households with someone over the pension credit age. If you qualify, you’ll receive an annual tax-free payment to help you cover costs over the colder months.

Learn more about the Winter Fuel Payment and how to claim.


Get home insurance sorted

Your home can be more vulnerable to risks such as storm and flood damage during the winter months, as well as pipes freezing and other cold related incidents. This is why it’s important to ensure you have a comprehensive home insurance policy in place. Some policies offer ‘home emergency cover’, which means your insurer will step in and source professional help if you experience flood or storm damage. Many providers also let you add in boiler cover, so you’re protected in the event of any breakdowns.


Schedule a boiler service

With the days and nights beginning to get darker and colder, the last thing you need is no heating or hot water. To help keep your boiler in good working order, it's recommended you get a professional boiler service every 12 months. This way you know everything is running as safely and efficiently as possible.

Remember: always use a Gas Safe registered business or engineer for your service.


Stock up on winter essentials

Bouts of bad weather and power cuts can strike when you least expect it, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared by stocking up on winter essentials such as:

  • Grit
  • Anti-freeze
  • Candles
  • Batteries

As the weather grows colder, it’s also important to ensure items such as lawnmowers, garden furniture, barbeques and bicycles are safely stored away in a garage or shed to prevent damage or theft during the winter months.

For further home advice, as well as guides on getting the most out of later life, visit our Useful Articles section.


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